Ok here are my thoughts on todays stage:
[sarcasm]What an epic mountain stage today, the whole GC and KOM could hinge on the outcome of the 'Alto de ramp-o-bridge'
My suggestion to the top men is to just find a rhythm and keep plugging away and eventually the top will come because at this sort of gradient it is all you can do. The long, winding and twisty descent should give any guys who top the climb with 1 min + on the field a chance to hold their hard fought time gain.
The Vuelta organisers are expecting the climb to be packed with spectators, apparently they are expecting to surpass the amount seen on the Angliru last year. Spanish police, will therefor be providing crowd control because at the severe gradient of the climb any rider that is stopped/hit/impeded by a spectator would struggle to re-accelerate enough to climb the rest of the mountain pass and would therfor have to walk which would mean game-over for any contender.
In the spanish press this morning Alejandro Valverde was quoted saying that he thought the compact cranksets being used by most riders today because of the severe gradient would leave him under-geared so he has opted for a 36-50 insted of the 34-50 being used by most. Valverde is also supporting an 11-25 on the back with the idea that the slightly bigger gear might help when he attacks just as it kicks up just past the halfway point of the climb.
Ivan Basso on the other hand told Eurosport this morning that he plans to spin as much as he can, and to avoid going under 200rpms he is supporting a 53-39-30 with a massive 30 dinner plate on the back, apparently to get this done Liquigas this morning signed a deal to ride SRAM for today only and is riding with a mountain bike gruppo.
Team Astana leader Alexander Vinokourov also said this morning that he is feeling good and will show the boys how to HTFU on the climb by riding a steel framed fixie with nobbly tyres, flats for pedals, a basket for his bottles and powerbars and a bell to warn others on the decent. He said he will do this because he had his transfusi-o's for breakfast this morning. He says that he used to prefer the homologus flavour but since 2007 he prefers the autologus kind and also wished astana would bring back e-p-o's for a change but thought the micera and cera flavours were very similar.
VS who are only here because they thought Sir lance was racing but it just turned out to be some other American guy that the US general public had never heard of called Chris Hornet or Chris Wasp or bee or something like that and have said they are going to cut away to the curling once they finished rolling the feature by Bob Roll on how Lance would win on the climb due to his genetically larger heart and more aerodynamically shaped head.
But all-in-all it is expected to be one of the pivotal stages in the GC this year and alot could depend on how the major players perform on the hors catgorie climb of the Alto de ramp-o-bridge. What a freakin day it is gonna be. Oh yeah i forgot to mention it will likely end in a bunch sprint, but as they say 'well thats racing'. [/sarcasm]