ramped finishes are proving something of a trademark for Joaquim Rodriguez, who
now has two such victories in this year's Vuelta.
stage eight win at San Lorenzo de El Escorial was even more impressive that the
last week's win in Valdepeñas de Jaén - for the simple fact that not only was
it considerably steeper, it was also partially cobbled.
Philippe Gilbert is expected to win any uphill sprint, or Vincenzo Nibali to
dominate any treacherous descent, it was almost a given that 'El Purito' would
win Saturday's stage.
Four men may
have nipped off the front, and numerous riders may have had a pop in the
closing kilometres, but nothing was ever going to stop Rodriguez getting his
second and Katusha's third victory of the race.
the futile breakaway attempts of forlorn riders to thwart Mark Cavendish and
the HTC train during any flat stage of the Tour de France.
always 100 per cent in control - and their faith in Rodriguez was as unerring
as everyone's expectation that the Spaniard would deliver another masterclass
in uphill riding.
they're calling Rodriguez the new Rebellin - but that's hardly apt for a ride
whose nickname implies some form of inherent stylistic purity. The 32-year-old
is more like a climbing Gilbert - and he's certainly beginning to match the
Belgian in flair.
Russian-backed Katusha team are looking more and more justified in their
decision to hold back their key Spaniards from the Tour in anticipation of the
Vuelta. It's early days, but it could well be their race to lose.
Sunday sees the race's first proper summit finish after a long, gradual climb -
as opposed to a short and sharp ramp (uphill cycling's equivalent to fast
food). These Big Mac finishes are soon to be replaced with long, five-course
gourmet dining experiences at the chef's table.
Rodriguez have the right kind of palate for such two-wheeled gastronomy?
lost 32 seconds to the new red jersey Rodriguez in San Lorenzo, is not an
explosive climber and was never going to cling on up a gradient of 28 per cent.
nine's long climb to Covatilla could prove a different prospect. If the Italian
could finish with Rodriguez there, then he could well move into the race lead
himself following Monday's 40km ITT in Salamanca.