Weekend Preview – Vuelta and Isbergues

The Vuelta wraps-up this weekend with a flat 27km time trial around the ancient city of Toledo and the traditional final stage into Madrid.

Friday’s Stage 19 was supposed to provide a last chance for GC fireworks with a summit finish in La Granja. Unfortunately, more explosions happened off the back of the lead group than at the front with Robert Gesink succumbing to his injuries from a crash a few days ago–he lost several minutes and now sits in 6th place overall, a whopping 5:30 down.

As for Saturday, look for Alejandro Valverde to hold his lead. The gaps are simply too far to his challengers; he should prove able to keep them at bay. As for the rest of the podium, Cadel Evans could leapfrog Basso and Sanchez to claim 2nd place. If he does, look for the talk to begin of “what could have been” had he not flatted on the stage to Sierra Nevada. As for Sanchez and Basso, neither should be discounted–they’ve been known to ride a good ITT when it counts.

As for the stage winner, I’m picking Frantisek Rabon to give Columbia-HTC yet another stage win. Greipel should bag them another come Sunday as well.

Moving north, one of my favorite fall races, the Grand Prix d’Isbergues takes place Sunday, with a bevy of French and Benelux teams taking the line. Look for Romain Feillu, Jimmy Casper, Yauheni Hutarovich, and Nick Nuyens to fight it out for the title. Remind me sometime to tell you the story involving me, a hungover mechanic, 7 flat tires, and Geert Van Bondt hanging-on to the side of our team car at about 70kmph–with only two of the car’s wheels on asphalt. It happened at Isbergues.

Ah the memories!

What about you? What are you looking forward to this weekend? Any picks?

Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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