Itzulia Basque Country 2021, Spain, April 5 - April 10

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This is unfortunately the evidence of age finally catching up with him. 2017/2018 Valverde wins the stage. On the other hand, the fact that he is still that close is a good sign for him.
I don't know. I think Rog and Pog are better than what he faced in 2017-18. But it would for sure have been closer (and I know he was basically invincible in 2017 which is why that Düsseldorf crash still haunts me).
 
I find it interesting that UAE team explores every part of every important stage. They drive on the road and talk about best tactics. Pog said they did it today too, specially the last climb and knew very well what to expect and how to ride to win.

Why other teams don't do that? Rog said he didn't know anything about the last climb and attacked too early. Rog also said he had no preparation for this race since he's coming from a crash. So he has room to improve and he'll need it against Pog.
 
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Yates often fades in the third week of grand tours so maybe two one week races in three weeks is a little too much for him to keep his god tier one week race form, similar happened in 2019 when he was not as good at Itzulia as he had been at Volta/Tirreno.
He woulv'de won the race that year if not for over minute lost in the 2nd stage.
 
I find it interesting that UAE team explores every part of every important stage. They drive on the road and talk about best tactics. Pog said they did it today too, specially the last climb and knew very well what to expect and how to ride to win.

Why other teams don't do that? Rog said he didn't know anything about the last climb and attacked too early. Rog also said he had no preparation for this race since he's coming from a crash. So he has room to improve and he'll need it against Pog.
They don't do it every time, Matzxin Fernandez is a Basque, and he knows this climb has a tricky finish so he went with Pogacar to recon it.
 
Woods also did a recon last Sunday, he said in the pre-stage interview. It's only 20k away from Bilbao (where the race started), so basically everyone could have done it, even at a poorly organized team
 
I find it interesting that UAE team explores every part of every important stage. They drive on the road and talk about best tactics. Pog said they did it today too, specially the last climb and knew very well what to expect and how to ride to win.

Why other teams don't do that? Rog said he didn't know anything about the last climb and attacked too early. Rog also said he had no preparation for this race since he's coming from a crash. So he has room to improve and he'll need it against Pog.
This is not the Tour de France. They don't have to be that detailed anyway.
 
Congratulations to Tadej Pogačar for wining stage 3.

Overall i would say the peloton is rather strong in this race and captains and their teams in a rather good shape. I expected more mano a mano type of fights, on stages such as stage 3, with smaller group of favorites involved.

Seeing Roglič and Pogačar perform that good, against such strong field, that for sure makes them special. In my opinion this is not only a Slovenian thing anymore, this is already an internationally accepted duel and i am sure that most cycling fans do enjoy it. They really do put on a show and their attitude, friendship and rivalry is something to admire and to look forward too. And in the end they do deliver.

Due to various reasons, some people don't like them, but that is OK. Some go further and say for sure doping is involved, as Slovenia newer had cyclists of such caliber. Trying to build such case on this fact alone is in my opinion not all that fair, but OK. As for example if Yates would oust them, then suddenly it would be OK. Only because Britain already had a GT winners.

Valverde did really good today, Lazkano fighter. All other cyclist finishing under a minute did great today too. A lot of attacking involved.

As for who does more work, Roglič or Pogačar. I would say they did equal amount on stage 2 and 3. Both attacked and both responded to other attacking in similar fashion.

As for Roglič and his team. Slightly more support today, Vingegaard trying to hold on at the end. Still i would say the weakest roster, not just compared to Ineos or UAE.

Pogačar had small tactical advantage, knowing the terrain better, and took the win. Roglič needs to put a stop on the seconds eroding. It looks like he doesn't want to go all in on final sprints (stage 2 and 3). Will likely need to start doing that, for example already tomorrow if there will be a bunch sprint. From a team tactical point of view and possible race control i would say he is in a rather bad position and will need to result to other tactics and experience he has gained as an elite one week racer. Tomorrow he will likely get isolated easily, on the last climb and Pogačar likely won't wait until stage 6. One thing going in Roglič favor is Ineos and other teams have no real interest in letting Pogačar succeed in a long(er) range attack and on individual level i doubt anybody can drop Roglič. But he is hurting out there, Kuss likely not happy at all, sitting home.
 
All in all 3 stages done, 3 still to go. Race still being open for Roglič, Pogačar and Yates and i would say additional surprises are still possible. A whole lot of nervous moments still ahead, likely till the last meter on stage 6, starting tomorrow.

P.S. The scenery was great on stage 3.
 
I find it interesting that UAE team explores every part of every important stage. They drive on the road and talk about best tactics. Pog said they did it today too, specially the last climb and knew very well what to expect and how to ride to win.

Why other teams don't do that? Rog said he didn't know anything about the last climb and attacked too early. Rog also said he had no preparation for this race since he's coming from a crash. So he has room to improve and he'll need it against Pog.
i think i've seen somewhere that Woods+Rogla also did it..
View: https://twitter.com/alejanvalverde/status/1379858265723518977
 
How narrow/technical is the final descent, and how many km of true flat are there?

I assume a big battle for breakaway, including UAE trying to put guys into that break.
From the profile it looks like 7 km of flat at the end. I think there can be GC action today again (at least Pog will try): the last muro is hard and tomorrow should be a calmer day. As you said, maybe a teammate from a breakaway will help Poga in the last part of the stage (if he drops Primoz).
 
There is a high probability something is about to happen, on Erlaitz.

Worst case scenario, Roglič left behind with a weak support or alone, in front a group that could be called peloton trying to drop him.

Best case scenario, Roglič and hopefully at least one of his teammates holds, or the peloton doesn't fall apart and Roglič puts a stop on the erosion of seconds.

Wild dreams Roglič gains seconds today. Bunch sprint or attacking on Erlaitz and joining some group ahead and they decide to work together.

Fantastic stage ahead today. King exposed, prince will at least try, others for sure have their own plot.
 
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