79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2017)

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Sorry Bullrun, but I think you're underestimating the climbs here. Sure, maybe some of them are overcategorized, and there's a lot of lower category climbs that are basically long false flat drags, but Torre is a genuine HC, Senhora da Graça is borderline cat.1/cat.2 depending on how much of it you do. Sure there are no Alps, but there are plenty of climbs that are more than sufficient to make a difference at a WT stage race. Remember, the Tour de Pologne, BinckBank Tour and their ilk are WT too. The climbs are perhaps more like those of Paris-Nice than the Grand Tours, but it's a gross oversimplification to say the climbs are easy. Although this year they've gone back to the crappy Farinha stage without Alvão, Monte do Viso or Campanhó beforehand so it makes the wattage obviously high. Still, there are very high wattage levels.

The issue with César is not that he's a main guy here - the guy has a palmarès (albeit obviously the cases of García da Pena and Mosquera do impact the reading of the Xacobeo team, however César was probably the next strongest rider they have). However, since reinventing himself in Portugal - he was pretty anonymous for a year with Andalucía after Xaco folded - he's developed hitherto dormant abilities. And the fact that the Portuguese scene is still for better or for worse perceived as a career graveyard, where all the interesting young talents slave away for old riders and, especially post-Puerto, the leaders are all strong riders unwanted at the top level. The situation was improving a few years ago, as the old Puerto relics like David Bernabéu and David Blanco retired, but the problem that the scene is not really trusted limits the opportunities to move on from it (especially now that Caja Rural, one of the few top 2 level teams who were pilfering talent from the scene, have had their fingers burnt thanks to Alberto Gallego's case, and André Cardoso, one of the few riders who'd got out and carved a strong niche for himself at the WT level, has now been suspended). As a result, the scene is full of stalwarts of Portuguese cycling, which only exacerbates the insular feel, and also because many of these riders are too old to be seen as worthwhile projects by higher tier teams, the Volta is therefore their only viable target year-long, so all of them hit it in super-strong form. The reduction of the race to a 2.1 was in some ways smart as it meant that other Continental teams could come along and you got developmental teams, but at the same time, the lack of UCI points available harmed its appeal when 2011-12 was the peak of the "UCI points are everything" period where WT teams were picking up guys like Chaoufi, Serebryakov and Mehdi Sohrabi, because who wants to slave away for 11 days in the sweltering heat for the slim pickings left after the national péloton, at peak form, brutalises the race, when the same points are available for say, Paris-Corrèze, a two day hilly race in which good placement could be a simple matter of picking the right break on the tougher stage, and then if that doesn't work, you can try some other one-day or short stage races all before the Volta finishes?

Anyway, Balarcón is going all-out. It's unusual, normally the Portuguese péloton guys that peak in races like Madrid and Asturias then fall into line as helpers come Volta time, like Héctor Guerra in 2009 or Santiago Pérez in 2010. But Balarcón has been all-in in everything he's touched since early April. Antunes is still young enough to harbour ambitions of getting above this level, and certainly looked impressive on his home roads in the Volta ao Algarve, finally starting to show some of that promise he had as an espoir. It will be interesting to see if anybody outside Portugal dares touch Alarcón, because if the reputation of the Portuguese péloton wasn't so tattered, you'd have thought he'd be useful for a few teams as a comparatively cheap mountain helper. The sudden emergence at 31 is not going to help the reputation of the Portuguese péloton, however.

No, the Portuguese péloton is not the (somewhat exaggerated) wild west that it might have been in the 80s, where they still suffered from tactical immaturities the same way as the Spaniards did in the Loroño-Bahamontes days. But it is still very clearly a different world out there, which has been exacerbated in recent years by a reduction in the quality of the estrangeiro teams and riders competing (the bottom falling out of Spanish cycling has been a major culprit here, however, as back 10 years ago you'd have some very strong Spanish ProContinental lineups joining the party; Portugal has reviewed the licencing requirements to help rebuild the national péloton, but Spain still clings to some rules and regulations - and a calendar - that makes going Continental a difficult sell.

Spain needs more .2 races. That would benefit both Spanish cycling and the Volta. Because at the moment, there's little incentive for a leading amateur team like Valencia Terra i Mar, Supermercados Froiz or Ampo (I leave out Caja Rural amateur and Lizarte as they are direct feeder teams) to go Continental, because the calendar of pro races is limited and will mostly see them being beaten up on by Movistar and Orica, and so only older riders who have outgrown the amateur scene and aren't seen as projects worth picking up by the top two tier teams will go ride for the small pro teams, whose main role tends therefore to be cannon fodder and make money from breakaway primes and prizes. More .2 races where those teams can pick up valuable earnings - made out of extant stronger amateur races in Spain like the Vuelta a Navarra, Vuelta a León and Vuelta a Ávila - puts more racing in between the levels of racing against the guys like Valverde and co., and the amateur scene, and for these guys the Volta might therefore become a more viable target, rather than the poor northern European continental guys being sent out there to be put to the sword.
 
Antunes _O_
He will crush Balarcon in Torre _O_ (Probably not but let's hope for it)
Also, as LS says they should have made the Senhora da Graça stage harder. They should have also climbed the Torre twice in the Guarda stage. (Or do the Penhas de Saude-Penhas Douradas combo before Torre)
 
Great performance for Nocentini yesterday, that was probably the worst stage for him with the long final climb and was dropped only by Alarcon.
Today and saturday the punchy finish are perfect for him but also the stage with sterrato is very good for him, if he survives Torre he could finish in the top three.
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Nirvana said:
Great performance for Nocentini yesterday, that was probably the worst stage for him with the long final climb and was dropped only by Alarcon.
Today and saturday the punchy finish are perfect for him but also the stage with sterrato is very good for him, if he survives Torre he could finish in the top three.
His teammate Marque could spoil the party with his TT skills if he's able to minimize his losses.
 
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Mayomaniac said:
Nirvana said:
Great performance for Nocentini yesterday, that was probably the worst stage for him with the long final climb and was dropped only by Alarcon.
Today and saturday the punchy finish are perfect for him but also the stage with sterrato is very good for him, if he survives Torre he could finish in the top three.
His teammate Marque could spoil the party with his TT skills if he's able to minimize his losses.
I've considered Alarcon and Marque in front of him but Antunes back after the TT, the portugese will lose a lot of time in the final day considering how bad is against the clock.
 
That's where the infamous photo of Rui Sousa's ridiculous victory face came from as well, I think, after Joni Brandão ran Danail Petrov off the road and down the diversion for the motos. Speaking of Horner, looks like he got his climbing legs from when he was a sprightly young 30-35 year old back, and lost a couple of minutes on Senhora da Graça. You know, his performance level from when he was the 5th strongest rider on Liberty Seguros and couldn't win the Volta even with a 5 minute headstart from an escape on the Torre stage.

Anyway, César isn't going to pass the torch without a final hurrah. He was pretty miffed by the lead given to the Vinhas group last year, so if he's going to hand over to Balarcón he's going to do it while sending a message that he's still got strength to offer.

Also ought to point out the performances of Krists Neilands, for Israel Cycling Academy, especially if they're hoping for a Giro invite next year. He's been pretty good so far, just outside the top 10 yesterday, and two top 10s, one in a sprint and one today.
 
May 13, 2015
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Re: 79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2

Isn't Alarcon WT level? Compared to the other riders in this race, he has a great age (31) and he is an aggressive rider.

He was even able to beat Quintana.
 
Re: 79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2

WheelofGear said:
Isn't Alarcon WT level? Compared to the other riders in this race, he has a great age (31) and he is an aggressive rider.

He was even able to beat Quintana.
He (probably) won't be able to have the same form if he rides for a pro-conti team or a WT team. Afaik he doesn't have a bio-passport.
 
May 13, 2015
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Re: 79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2

Netserk said:
WheelofGear said:
Isn't Alarcon WT level? Compared to the other riders in this race, he has a great age (31) and he is an aggressive rider.

He was even able to beat Quintana.
He (probably) won't be able to have the same form if he rides for a pro-conti team or a WT team. Afaik he doesn't have a bio-passport.
:D
 
Re: 79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2

WheelofGear said:
Isn't Alarcon WT level? Compared to the other riders in this race, he has a great age (31) and he is an aggressive rider.

He was even able to beat Quintana.
He's riding for a portuguese team. Pretty self-explanatory. :razz:
 
Jun 30, 2014
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Rui Sousa strikes again, the guy seems to be ageless, he's probably probably an inter.dimensional psychic vampire.
 
Re:

BigMac said:
Yeah, this race just lost all its credibility for good. If it still had any.

Pathetic country.
Funny story:

I went to see the prologue with my training partner. I had the sporting-tavira jersey+bibs and my friend had the w52-fc porto one. The RTP journalist wanted to interview us because we were "rivals". But the best part were the 4 different people that wanted to take a picture with my friend. There was even a lady that wanted him to hold her baby for the photo :lol:

So yes... really pathetic country (but at least we had a good laught with it!)
 
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carolina said:
BigMac said:
Yeah, this race just lost all its credibility for good. If it still had any.

Pathetic country.
Funny story:

I went to see the prologue with my training partner. I had the sporting-tavira jersey+bibs and my friend had the w52-fc porto one. The RTP journalist wanted to interview us because we were "rivals". But the best part were the 4 different people that wanted to take a picture with my friend. There was even a lady that wanted him to hold her baby for the photo :lol:

So yes... really pathetic country (but at least we had a good laught with it!)
Lol. That's embarassing.

Worst must have been the clueless journo with the typical tabloid beef mentality. I saw this coming though.
 
Re: 79ª Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta (4 a 15 de Agosto de 2

Okay, can anyone explain this race to me. All I know is that this race is some kind of fan favorite, with riders I have never heard about who seem to ride completely crazily and have never heard anything about modern cycling tactics.

But why all this? Why are there no big teams in this race, why are all these riders nowhere in all other races in the rest of the season and generally just why is this race so popular. Can anyone explain the fascination of the Volta because every time I look into this thread I get completely confused
 

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