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La Vuelta: Stage 1 Team Time Trial

August 24, 2014

Cycling is a team sport won by individuals. Stage 1 is slightly different as the winning team picks up the honours. The team trial requires skill and power. Only a few of the teams practice their skills in this specialised type of stage, and some teams are more powerful than others.

Let’s have a look at how each team is looking for the overall race.

Movistar (Stage 1: First) Castroviejo was first over the line so will wear the leader’s red jersey tomorrow. The team is obviously strong and powered to the win. They will also be happy gaining valuable seconds over the likes of Froome. However, they will now need to lead the race until someone else (probably a sprinter like Sagan or Degenkolb) gains enough in bonus seconds to take the race lead. That might be quite late in the week, so they have lots of work to do. Quintana is the top favourite but the team has brought Valverde, which will be a major handicap for the Columbian. Valverde controls the team and seems incapable of working for anyone else.

Cannondale (Second at 6s) The team is breaking up although reports suggest that the merger with Garmin means the name will continue. Sad to see this long running Italian team disappear. Sagan is always good for a win, especially with some small climbs to the finish.

Orica Greenedge (Third at 6s) Usually Orica just target stage wins, but their talented Columbian Chaves might be able to finish high on GC.

Trek Factory Racing (9s) The usual mixed bag of decent individual riders but not strong as a team. Cancellara and Arredondo have a good chance of winning a stage.

Omega Pharma Quick Step (11s) Uran has a great chance of winning the race but the team looks weak. Boonen and Martin are good bets for stage wins. Very unlikely that the whole team will finish the race, half of them might quit for the worlds.

Giant Shimano (16s) Usually a team dedicated to winning sprints, but they have Barguil who might do well on GC. Degenkolb has won a bag of stages in past Vueltas and will be looking to add to that.

Tinkoff Saxo (16s) Contador is likely to be behind even Froome in recovery, but he might be able to gain form through the race. The team is not their strongest but they will be committed to their leader.

Belkin (19s) The team has too many leaders with Kelderman (who did well at the giro), Ten Dam (often a strong GC rider but not great) and Gesink (the Dutch prodigal son and unfilled talent). I doubt the team will achieve much.

BMC (21s) Sammy Sanchez is one to watch and has a good chance of a podium spot. Cadel Evans might be riding his last grand tour and has struggled to last three weeks for a year or two. Half the team might depart early as they will be thinking of the worlds.

Lampre Merida (25s) Conti will wear No. 1 now that last year’s winner Horner has withdrawn but I’ve never heard of him. I’ll be surprised if Cunego can do more than tag onto the others for a while, he might finish top ten. Niemiec, Pozzato and Serpa are exciting riders and worth looking out for.

Sky (27s) All for Froome who is one of the favourites, but there are questions about if has he recovered from his broken arms. They will be disappointed to lose so time this early. Team looks strong on paper but are they all fit?

MTN-Qhuebeka (29s) Look for them in the breaks.

Astana (30s) Aru was on the podium in this year’s Giro, but the young Italian might struggle to back that up in Spain. Kangert is one to watch. The team looks a bit like a B team after their win in France.

Lotto Belisol (30s) Expect Van den Broeck to be challenging for top ten but not the podium. He is likely to be seen falling out the back of the group of favourites. I’ve lost count of the number of grand tours Adan Hansen has done in a row, what a legend.

AG2R (33s) The hugely talented Betancur returns after disappearing for most of the year, however, he is reportedly overweight and must be unfit. The rest of the team will be targeting breaks and will hope for a stage win.

Katusha (38s) Rodriguez and wing man Moreno are in action again. Can the old man finally win a grand tour? An outside bet but don’t count him out. Another dismal TTT will not help.

IAM (40s) Unknown, probably going for breaks.

Garmin Sharp (41s) Unusually poor TTT, but not as bad as the Giro. Another team that has so many leaders there are few left to do any work. They are also desperate to achieve what they think are worth, but are unlikely to get close to that. Watch for them in stage wins and falling down the GC leaderboard when the going gets tough.

FDJ (45s) Bouhanni will be angry and gunning for stage wins, quite likely to win a few as well. Surprised that Pinot is riding after doing so well at the Tour, will he even finish?

Caja Rural (48s), Cofidis (51s), Europcar (63s) Will be visible in breaks and hoping for stage wins, but unlikely to get them.

 

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