Vuelta Travelogue - Anticipation and Trepidation
Stage 11, September 6th,
Torrelavega (Velódromo Oscar Freire) to
Burgos, 173.6 km
In the cycling crazy Cantabria region, three times World Champion Oscar Freire is a super-hero. The extent of Cantabrian adoration is no stronger than in Freire's hometown of Torrelavega which has named the local velodrome after him. Starting at the velodrome, today's stage heads due south through Cantabria and back into the Castilla y León region. For the Vuelta this is a somewhat unusual approach because normally once in this part of Spain the race heads for the Pyrenees which are not being visited at all this year.
Burgos was the first capitol of Castilla and is known as the birth place of El Cid. Born c.1040, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar has become a great hero of the chivalrous age of Spain . He was given the title of seid or cid (lord, chief) by the Moors and that of campeador (champion) by his admiring countrymen. He is the central figure in a long series of heroic achievements in the long struggle of Christian Spain against the Moslem hosts. Legends on a par with King Alfred abound from this mythical character that died in 1099 in Valencia .
Burgos, the statue of El Cid As the race starts its trek back to the Mediterranean , the peloton has a very hard day ahead of it. After about 40kms the race crests the Category 2 Puerto de Braguia (1720m) and then mid-race the Category 1 Puerto del Escudo (1011m) which includes 12% and 13% ramps. About 12km from the summit the race then tackles the final categorized climb of the day, the Category 3 Puerto de Carrales (1030m). From there the rolling countryside is far from easy but for the leading riders the finish in Burgos is a sprinters dream. The final 1.5km is along a wide and dead straight road perfect for the formation of lead-out trains.
Big news came before the start of today's stage with the withdrawal of defending champion Denis Menchov. The Rabobank team leader seemed to be racing on an empty tank after suffering stomach problems.
The stage departed the Velódromo Oscar Freire in Torrelavega for a 5km pre-race neutral zone through the City. At 13:05 the official departure flag dropped and the early attack started. A bit of excitement came at 23km into the stage when Alexandre Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, and Andrey Kashechkin tried to escape, but an alert peloton responded quickly and brought them back.
The first successful breakaway of the day came near the base of the Category 1 Puerto de Braguia . Point's leader Thor Hushovd was the first to attack and was joined by 12 other “non-danger” riders. Strangely over the Cat 1 climb the big Norwegian sprinter gained maximum mountain points. The breakaway rode steadily away and opened an 8'30” lead as the Category 1 Puerto del Escudo began.
13 rider breakaway on the Puerto de Braguia ( Image © Unipublic )
Discovery's Egoi Martinez launched what seemed to be a suicide attack over the top of the climb. Slowly he opened a solid gap over the fading 12 rider group. Impressively Martinez powered to a 2'58” gap to his former breakaway partners and 14'22” to the lethargic peloton.
Lethargic peloton didn't seem to care about the breakaway ( Image © Unipublic )
With 73km to Burgos the Caisse d'Epargne led peloton upped the tempo and began to close the gap. From the original breakaway Inigo Landaluze and Volodymir Gustov bridge the gap to Martinez . The trio stabilized their advantage at 1'45” to the Hushovd group.
The final approach to Burgos is basically downhill and flat. But across the plains a driving wind and rain storm slowed the effort, but the lead trio worked smoothly toward the finish. Into the outskirts of Burgos Martinez attacked the trio. Landaluze and Gustov could do nothing as Martinez completed his suicide breakaway with amazing stage win. Landaluze finished second, Gustov third.
Martinez stage win under the watchful eye of
the proud Race Director, Victor Cordero. ( Image © Unipublic )
Suicide attacks can be painful but when they work the rewards are great! Egoi Martinez gained a Burgos Breakaway.
Sweet Rewards! ( Image © Unipublic )
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