theyoungest wrote:There's as much reason to consider Wiggins a favourite for this Vuelta, as there was to consider Antón a favourite after having done a great first week last year. If anything, Wiggins has more GT chops than Antón, for having finished 4th in the Tour day France. Wiggins is a diesel, Antón is fragile and inconsistent... what's worse in a three week tour? I've seen the answer on the road.
For God's sake don't get so defensive.
People were unconvinced about Wiggins because he had never backed that original breakthrough performance up - in 2010 he was disappointing, and the 2009 Tour route neutralised many of the high mountains, so his climbing was still something that people were unsure about. Especially on a route with Anglirú on it, since we've NEVER seen an on-form Wiggins tackle a really steep climb like that. Because the focus of the event was more on climbing and less on the ITT, people were considering Wiggins not a threat because he's comparable to Menchov, but few would consider him to be a better climber, at least not before the start of this Vuelta anyway.
Climbing was something people were not unsure about with Antón. More than his 2010 Vuelta, he'd dropped Contador in Castilla y León, gone with Contador and Valverde in the 2008 Vuelta, and won a week 3 mountain stage in 2006. Now I defended Antón primarily because people were saying he was being judged a contender ONLY on the 2010 Vuelta. That's unfair. However, I judged him not consistent enough and considered Nibali the favourite. That was born out, in disappointing fashion.
To be honest, I am still willing to consider Nibali the favourite. He has come out of some very difficult Giro stages on very steep material smelling of roses (Zoncolán, Mortirolo) and his ride to defend his jersey on Bola del Mundo last year was spectacular. Wiggins on Farrapona and Anglirú is still a bit of a crapshoot. How good is he on that kind of climb? Truth be told, I'd expect Rodríguez to own him on that climb - but Rodríguez may have blown his chances yesterday, given that we have an ITT - his nemesis - and another climb suited to Wiggins in La Manzaneda after that.
On the plus side, that means that the likes of Purito will really have to make Anglirú hard right from the bottom. Wiggins will, if yesterday is anything to go by, just pretend they're not there and ride at his own tempo not caring if anybody's sitting on his back wheel or not. I don't think Purito can beat him - but Menchov or Nibali might get in between them, and the gaps on Anglirú will definitely be bigger than those on La Covatilla.
I always thought Wiggins had a decent tilt at the GC here - but I didn't think he could win, I thought the podium at the absolute best. Now it looks more like I was wrong, and the podium is likely, and the win at absolute best.