Cycling throws up the memorable, the iconic images and moments which live with you in your memory well beyond the moment which you perceived them. I won’t claim this is in any way a definitive list, merely the moments that will stick with me beyond the here and now. The above picture is of Nairo Quintana winning the Queen Stage of Tireno-Adriatico, which came close to making the Top 5.
The Women’s NRS wraps up this weekend with the Goldfields Tour and it should prove to be an eventful affair, with varied racing and still plenty up for grabs in the NRS overall classifications. Lucy Bechtel of Bicycle Superstore chatted before the race about the course and how she sees the race unfolding. It has been a good season for Bechtel, she took a win in the Tour of King Valley, and two second positions in the National Capital Tour, but she doesn’t expect to be competitive in this event. “Personally, I wasn’t going to be doing this tour so it will one of gaining experience for me, and riding for my teammates. We’ll have to have a discussion about who’s feeling good and who wants to be looked after.”
A dramatic penultimate day of the Vuelta saw Tom Dumoulin finally crack, delivering the jersey to Fabio Aru after a fine display by his Astana team. Rodriguez and Majka will round out the podium, provided they stay upright on this final stage, which is the normal Grand Tour processional followed by a criterium-style circuit.
It's the last big hurdle for Tom Dumoulin, he has overcome everything that has been thrown at him so far, but on the last stage where his competitors can make up time, they will throw everything they have at the big Dutchman in a last ditch attempt to snatch the red jersey from his shoulders. It will certainly be compelling viewing and isn't a good night to go to bed early.
The Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal is the second and harder of the two Canadian classics races, and like the GP Quebec, it is a relatively new addition to the cycling calendar, only having been raced since 2010. Both the Canadian races have become important preparation for the World Championships, and riders who want a chance at the rainbow stripes either ride the Vuelta or the Canadian classics. The circuit race format used here is unusual in the World Tour, and is part of the reason that is offers good Worlds preparation, as the Worlds course is almost always a circuit race as well. The GP Montreal has typically been won by puncheurs or climbers, with the winners list comprising of Robert Gesink, Rui Costa, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Peter Sagan and Simon Gerrans. Only Gerrans win came down to a bunch sprint, due mainly to the very strong work of Orica-Greenedge on the last lap.
Two superb riders were the talk of the race after the TT yesterday, Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru, one who trounced the field and took the red jersey, the other who hung on to keep the race leader's advantage to a miserly 3 seconds. That sets things up for a frenetic last three stages, before the Madrid processional, with no summit finishes on the agenda, but quite a bit of climbing nonetheless.
This time trial is shaping as the decisive stage of this Vuelta, after the mountain stages haven't seen one rider emerge dominant as of yet. All eyes will be on Tom Dumoulin today, as he is the most credentialed time triallist in the field, and could well lay the foundation for his first Grand Tour win. In fact it will be his first Grand Tour of note for GC, his previous best was 33rd in the 2014 Tour de France.
Joaquim Rodriguez closed to within a second of the red jersey within an impressive win on Stage 15, but he will need to continue with his time gains if he wants to win the Vuelta. Tom Dumoulin lost more time, but he's still within striking distance if he rides a good TT as expected, and everyone else will be nervous of the prospect of being too close to him coming into the Stage 17 TT.
On other fronts, Vuelta organisers have proven themselves either incompetent or mischievous liars, again publishing an incorrect profile of the final climb. I only really notice at the points where it says it should be 11% and is quite clearly 4% or in Stage 9 where the opposite was the case, but it throws into question all their data, as it would be easier to mistake say a 7% gradient for a 6%, and tougher for me to spot as well. So I won't be relying on the racebook for specific details, more as a general indicator.
The battle for the red jersey is poised very intriguingly at the moment, mostly due to the looming presence of the flat TT, and the respective abilities of the GC riders against the clock. The climbers know that they'll need to take time, and it will be very interesting to see how that plays out on the steep slopes of the final climb here.
Lampre-Merida did a great job tactically on this stage, attacking with Nelson Oliviera, and then marking the rest of the break and slowing down the chase by interrupting the turns at the front. Julien Simon respresented my selections by taking 2nd on the day, but clearly missed a trick by not having his teammate Bagot work to close down Oliviera more.
The next day could be for the break again, but the GC candidates will have to come out to play on the summit finish.
I'm Jamie Finch-Penninger, better known as Fishy, the best DS to ever sit a couch. Anything which I don't cover for a bigger site will be up here.
Come here for the previews of all the World Tour races this season, plus any Pro Continental/NRS/tricycle races that take my fancy. Along as it's pro cycling I'll have some sort of opinion on it. I'm Australian, so be prepared for a healthy Orica-Greenedge bias. Please feel free to request any changes or previews, and stay up to date on Twitter and Facebook.