Vuelta a España Vuelta a España 2021: Stage 14 (Don Benito - Pico Villuercas, 165.7 km)

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To the OP: Thanks for doing up another stage thread, but I'm interested to hear more on your thoughts on a "weird set of stages".

I think it's a well designed second week. Three stages with category 2 climbs towards the end (creating all sorts of outcome possibilities), and with a mixture of downhill and uphill finishers, followed by a flat stage, and now two semi proper mountain stages, held on the weekend no less.

Apart from maybe an ITT, I don't see what is missing here?
I think the mountain stages are just too soft for what they're supposed to do. Sunday is a good attempt but the climbs are all too shallow IMO. Today is another day where the final climb is just too easy.

Basically this Vuelta has only 3 big mountain stages, and they're all gonna be only about the MTF most likely.
 
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I think the mountain stages are just too soft for what they're supposed to do. Sunday is a good attempt but the climbs are all too shallow IMO. Today is another day where the final climb is just too easy.

Basically this Vuelta has only 3 big mountain stages, and they're all gonna be only about the MTF most likely.
I agree that a big mountain stage is missing between Velefique and Covadonga (it's 10 days!). Today and tomorrow are supposed to be big but as you stated the decisive climbs seem too shallow. But if some team or contenders go full gas on Villuercas then maybe those few steeper km (7-9%) will be enough to shred the group to pieces (we've seen it before), OTOH I don't have any hopes for tomorrow.
 
I think the mountain stages are just too soft for what they're supposed to do. Sunday is a good attempt but the climbs are all too shallow IMO. Today is another day where the final climb is just too easy.

Basically this Vuelta has only 3 big mountain stages, and they're all gonna be only about the MTF most likely.
Doesn't that kind of balance out with the usual low amount of ITT though? And much of that is at the very end, when the race of truth is more about recovery then strictly time trialling ability.

Whereas in the old days GT courses (at least TDF ones) would have 80-120 kms of ITT, but 5-6 big mountain stages.

P.S. Where is @Bavarianrider when you need him? :)
 
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I agree that a big mountain stage is missing between Velefique and Covadonga (it's 10 days!). Today and tomorrow are supposed to be big but as you stated the decisive climbs seem too shallow. But if some team or contenders go full gas on Villuercas then maybe those few steeper km (7-9%) will be enough to shred the group to pieces (we've seen it before), OTOH I don't have any hopes for tomorrow.
Don't care that much about balancing issues, I think in this Vuelta a 2nd full ITT would be overkill.

I think a lot of mountain ranges in Spain are kinda limited to what sort of mountain stages they can provide, especially when talking about passes. The final mountain stage of 2019 is about as good as you could do with stage 15, and even that stage was hugely circumstantial.

Nevertheless, a lot comes down to bad pacing. Asturias stages are nearly always poorly paced with the biggest stages always having a MTF and the hardest MTF nearly always being last. This year especially they put like 5 of the 6 hardest climb in the race in 2 consecutive stages with these stages bing all about that MTF anyway.

At any rate, for stage 14 I don't think there's that much else you can do except climbing it from the crazy side twice or maybe finding some smaller climb nearby or do a descent finish. This is probably the worst option. Llomena seems to be a great climb to be added to La Vuelta, but it's just there for backloading the route now. Gamoniteiru is literally the hardest climb of the year and it's entirely in the wrong place.
 
To the OP: Thanks for doing up another stage thread, but I'm interested to hear more on your thoughts on a "weird set of stages".

I think it's a well designed second week. Three stages with category 2 climbs towards the end (creating all sorts of outcome possibilities), and with a mixture of downhill and uphill finishers, followed by a flat stage, and now two semi proper mountain stages, held on the weekend no less.

Apart from maybe an ITT, I don't see what is missing here?
Less in terms of race design (stages 10 through 12 were all solid designs, IMO), more in terms of actual racing - every single one of the stages this week has subverted expectations, even yesterday's seemingly straightforward stage.

In terms of race design, this weekend isn't hard enough. Today's stage would have been better with a double ascent of Ballesteros and descent finish into Guadalupe. If they really needed to keep the MTF, at least doing the circuit around Guadalupe in the opposite direction would have helped - this means starting with the climb below, which is now the descent back into Guadalupe instead.



Tomorrow's stage needed some spice to make GC action somewhat more likely - Alto de Aguilones (introduced to the race in 2019 as the Alto de Navaltagordo early in the Gredos stage) directly after Mijares would have been an easy solution. This would be the first 4.4 kilometres of the profile below followed by a short descent into Burgohondo and the final 22 kilometres of the stage as planned - not ideal, but definitely better than what we have now.

 
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If i look at stages ahead i would say they are hard enough for potential of one of the remaining favourites to experience a bad day. Things like having or not having a great consistency through the whole 3 weeks, if your team is any good or not, this will get exposed. If there would be one super hard stage then all favourites would focus on it anyway. Now they are forced to race hard basically each day until the last day. Rather hard thing to do IMHO. That is if you somehow manage to not have a bad day in between.
 
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18 riders ahead, closer in GC is Champoussin at 45 minutes.
Movistar has no riders in the break, Ineos has Pidcock, Bahrein has Tratnik.

Clément Champoussin, Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R-Citroën), Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fnix), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Dani Navarro (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagües (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Jens Keukeleire (EF Educaiton Nippo), Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Arnaud Démare, Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation), Matthew Holmes (Lotto Soudal), Andrey Zeits (Team BikeExchange), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Dylan Sunderland (Team Qhubeka NextHash) and Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates)

Gap already above 2 minutes.
 
so vine, bardet, pidcock, champoussin or herada will win the stage
Champoussin has struggled massively on longer climbs this year. Hope he can surprise me though.

I feel like Tratnik is an underrated climber in breakaways. He was second on the Zoncolan ealier this year. He could also try to anticipate in the rolling section before the last climb and then hold on.
 
Champoussin has struggled massively on longer climbs this year. Hope he can surprise me though.

I feel like Tratnik is an underrated climber in breakaways. He was second on the Zoncolan ealier this year. He could also try to anticipate in the rolling section before the last climb and then hold on.
Tratnik shouldn't be slept on. The final climb is also not too unkind to rouleurs in the first place.
 
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