Velominati Super Prestige: Vuelta a España 2012

Nibbles wins the 2010 edition of the Vuelta. Photo: Cyclesport Mag

One of the loveliest things about the Grand Tours is that you get a feel, by the nature of the route, of the country’s landscape and physical qualities. Italy is littered with mountains and coasts, France is bordered by mountains with large swaths of open landscape throughout, and Spain is like Tatooine; mostly desert with some rocky outcroppings. I might be oversimplifying here, but it seems like every edition of the Vuelta features a week or two of riders cutting through open desert on a freeway and then finishing it off with some climbs that require a buzz-saw gear to get up. Of the three Tours, this one is my least favorite, but it’s a bike race and I loves me a bike race.

The Vuelta also stands apart as being the event which generally decides the Velominati Super Prestige GC and the personalized Shop Apron that goes with it; in past editions, we’ve even had newcomers to the event debut at the Vuelta and win the overall, as was the case last year with @Nate’s performance. Unless I have that wrong, in which case I don’t really care. The important point here is that even though there is less interest in this event than others, it matters quite a bit to the year-long VSP, so you better be paying attention, corporal.

No fancy prizes on offer as we did at the Tour, but we do have our customary Symbol Pack up for grabs, in addition to second and third places winning a pair of Handlebar Cufflinks each when they come available in a few weeks. So, check the race details, get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero (5am Pacific time on Saturday), and buckle in for the ride. Regular GT VSP rules apply. Good luck.

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411 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Vuelta a España 2012”

  1. @motor city

    Brilliant final climb on the stage today, so so steep. Really worth trying to watch the last 15 minutes if you can find it.

    Just went back and watched stage 12 (which I missed watching live). Wow, what a climb! I was told that some of the riders were running 32s on their cassettes to get up that one. Amazing climbing.

  2. @Gianni

    Congrats, the stripey jersey is indeed looking fine on you! This does however leave me with a problem – I’m now relying on Bertie Beefsteak to win to increase my points haul, and that makes me feel… dirty. To compound this I haven’t submitted rest day picks so far this year, and as a matter of principle don’t want to start now. And if that wasn’t enough, work are shipping me to Afghanistan for a week (seriously – I’m wondering what the point is too) so no chance of submitting re-picks anyway.

    I’m going to have to use voodoo for my World Champs picks I think.

  3. @Fausto

    As last year’s winner my advice is this:  Do whatever it takes to win because if you don’t some other asshole, like @marcus, will.

  4. Finally getting around to watching the race this year. the spectators are rather thin. has it been like that the entire time?

  5. what a duel! Purrrrito!!! These battles on the final climbs have been ridiculous. And how about Talansky?

  6. Yes J-Rod is looking awesome.

    Fair play though to Majka, Paulinho, Gonzalez and the Saxo team – an outstanding display of domestiquation. A couple of times they pulled away, only to hang at the back and come up to the front again.

    Take note BMC and Liquigas – that’s how you put together a team to chase the GC.

  7. What a finish! Clenbutador put in what I thought was going to be a unstoppable surge, and J Rod just shut him down. I’m still impressed at how well Zoomy is doing given how much work he did for Wiggo last month. I figured he’d be totally cooked.

  8. Phenomenal last climb! I agree with @el gato, these hilltop finishes are so exciting.

    @scaler911 I agree, Contador seemed to be home free for the stage win. But J Rod timed his attack to perfection. No panic, he went when he wanted to. Simply incredible to watch these two guys duel it out on the steep hills.

    Contador took a bit of a shot from one of the fans just as Rodriguez was about to catch him. But, though I’m sure it affected his climbing rhythm, J Rod clearly had him by that point. Can’t wait to watch more of this!

  9. Is it common practice to tape a little graphic of the course profile to your stem? I saw Losada did that today. I made a homemade version of the same thing the last time I rode a sportive and was so damn impressed with my own ingenuity that I emailed the organisers to suggest they provide a peelable profile sticker for each entrant, as a little ‘added value’ thing. Their response: “No need, mate. Everybody got Garmins”. Pfff.

  10. @Gianni Rapha does have good looking kits and really nice design. I have one s/s Rapha jersey I wear in the winter and i love it. Affordable? It’ll be interesting to see how much the team gear costs, given that normal Rapha gear is already pretty pricey.

  11. Surprised by the lack of discussion regarding the Vuelta. Its been a cracking race so far….J-Rod is in awesome form! Great to see the top 4 really attacking each other in the hills. For me a much higher spectator value than the tour this year!

  12. @blackpooltower

    Is it common practice to tape a little graphic of the course profile to your stem? I saw Losada did that today. I made a homemade version of the same thing the last time I rode a sportive and was so damn impressed with my own ingenuity that I emailed the organisers to suggest they provide a peelable profile sticker for each entrant, as a little ‘added value’ thing. Their response: “No need, mate. Everybody got Garmins”. Pfff.

    Used to do that all the time (pre Garmin, which I still don’t own). During stage races, I’d write the GC guys I needed to worry about on my leg too. I think its a great idea.

  13. Another cracking stage – beautiful scenery, and yet again Contador keeps on firing and J-Rod keeps on coming.

    I hadn’t realised hpw much we missed the little steak-eater, but it isn’t just him – it’s the fact that he has some credible opposition and there is a real fight being played out. Credit to their respective teams as well.

    You really get the sense that if Contador can just make one of those attacks stick it will change the standings, but even then you wouldn’t back J-Rod and Valverde not to come straight back at him.

  14. Outstanding battles, and so exciting to watch! The look of the race has really changed since that first climb where Contador appeared to me to simply be toying with the others. I love his persistence. And his attacks look fierce. But J Rod seems to have an answer for him every time.

  15. @scaler911

    @blackpooltower

    Is it common practice to tape a little graphic of the course profile to your stem? I saw Losada did that today. I made a homemade version of the same thing the last time I rode a sportive and was so damn impressed with my own ingenuity that I emailed the organisers to suggest they provide a peelable profile sticker for each entrant, as a little ‘added value’ thing. Their response: “No need, mate. Everybody got Garmins”. Pfff.

    Used to do that all the time (pre Garmin, which I still don’t own). During stage races, I’d write the GC guys I needed to worry about on my leg too. I think its a great idea.

    My legs wouldn’t be long enough to do that…

  16. I really hope J-Rod hangs on, as he’s had an answer for Bertie every time so far, and it’d be great to see him make it stick. The flying Beefsteak is runningyour of hills to make it happen as well…

  17. Make that “running out of”.  Wait a minute – the stripes are back – the VSP must be closer than close at the moment!

  18. @Duende

    So now De Gendt decides to show up!

    Really, now that he is totally out of it he climbs like an angel. I squandered my #3 pick on him! The humanity, oooooooooo.

  19. @Gianni

    @Duende

    So now De Gendt decides to show up!

    Really, now that he is totally out of it he climbs like an angel. I squandered my #3 pick on him! The humanity, oooooooooo.

    I had him at #5 and, up until today’s stage, had been wondering what happened to the form that he showed in winning the Giro stage on the Stelvio. Left it a tad late, I’d say! Still, great climb today.

  20. @Gianni

    I picked vanderbroken for 2nd. He just simply abandoned at some point after being well over an hour back. I feel your pain.

  21. another beautiful / brutal vuelta stage today. i loved it.

    @Fausto agreed  – i really want j-rod to hold on and win this race now.

  22. @gaswepass

    @Gianni

    I picked vanderbroken for 2nd. He just simply abandoned at some point after being well over an hour back. I feel your pain.

    Hey, guess who are sitting pretty in my 4 & 5 spots?

  23. @Mikael Liddy

    @gaswepass

    @Gianni

    I picked vanderbroken for 2nd. He just simply abandoned at some point after being well over an hour back. I feel your pain.

    Hey, guess who are sitting pretty in my 4 & 5 spots?

    well we knew not to pick both of em, sheesh… Now someone get on gesink to get back up to 5th, what was he thinkin?

  24. Is it okay yet, to say that COTHO is being brilliant to watch? – whatever we may think of him, he is surely the most exciting rider in the peleton for his bonkers vicious attacking style – only Gilbert last year compares with this – can we welcome him back? Clearly since he now has to get his meat from the High Street rather than the Back Street, he can’t keep riding after he has attacked anymore, but he really is lighting this one up

    Vuelta fast becoming unmissable viewing – ITV even showing it, though lost a lot without the two dusty old men commentating – Eurosport still King for histrionic commentating – love it!

  25. @Dr C Sounds awesome, some serious V being dished out. Haven’t managed to watch much of it, three weeks without Eurosport or internet was a bit weird, race coverage cold turkey. Got the last few days of mountains on the Sky Box but that’ll only rub salt into the wound that is my climbing speed.

    To make matters worse, the power steering on my disco gave up on the way back from France. Combination of a heavy car and trailer has left me with a neck that hurts like hell and is not at all flexible so burying myself on the rollers is not even an option.

    All good in the emerald Isle?

  26. @Dr C No arguments here about Contador animating the race – I’m actually coming around to liking the guy.

    It’s one thing to attack when you know you’re going to rip everyone to shreds like he did in the Giro, but quite another to keep coming back day after day and throwing yourself at a brick wall.

    I can’t think of a GT in the last 10-15 years where anyone has done it quite like this. Usually there’s a key stage where the rivals are broken and after that they just ride to limit their losses or make the occasional attack in case the favourite falls off, but everyone knows the game is over.

    When have we seen repeated attacks within a stage, repeated day after day on killer stages. Chapeau to Bertie I say.

    On the coverage, I haven’t seen ITV, but I do wish David Harmon could stop sounding like he is close to tears every time Chris Froome loses more time.

  27. Despite the truth of having 2 in the top 5 with no chance left…the cost of swaps looks too much for the gamble so I am hoping Cobo and Uran hop on a tandem and dish some pain to Valverde and Moreno!

  28. Also enjoying via ITV4 highlights here. Format is different to tour, Imlach and a seemingly random pundit have a chat about the previous days stage, before the action, which is usually the last 20k or so. But all good.

    Really enjoyed Steve Cummings attack and stage win other day too.

  29. Hmm, swapping 1st and 4th would put me tied for second.  Seems like thats not in keeping with the spirit of things though.

  30. My DeGendt choice is a bust, but I’m still rooting for the wee man Talansky to get top 5 – which he would be without the awful TTT at the beginning. Froome looks like he’s on fumes.

    I think one reason we’ve seen so great racing is that it’s basically a three-way race for the win by three Spaniards. When was the last time a grand tour was being so closely contested by three riders from the home country?

  31. I’m hoping Moreno will continue to  blow himself up working for Purito and my man Talansky can slide into fifth for a perfect VSP Vuelta pick!  Either way this has been the best grand tour I’ve ever watched and I’m looking forward to the last week of action.

  32. Tell you what, I think Bertie may be getting stronger, and in a week’s time, on his home patch, we are going to see some serious fireworks – he seems to know only one way – attack attack attack – I can see Puritos legs falling off on the final climbing day – that said, I still hope he wins it

  33. @Dan_R I’m in the same boat. Was considering just sticking in Purito and hoping for a 25 point boast but it seems to be a bit odds with the spirit of the thing. A bit like turning up for the last week of a GT with fresh riders and saying “Sorry chaps – we were bit disorganised, how about we start 30 seconds behind the leader and leave two riders out of the team?”

  34. Well, I think I can count on the fact that Froome is cooked.  So am I.  No changes. I’m going for a ride.

  35. “Rabobank climbers Robert Gesink and Laurens Ten Dam, sixth and eighth on general classification, were horrified at their experience. “I have never seen anything as hard than the Cuitu Negru,” Gesink said on the team’s homepage after the stage. “This last climb is hell, for a fact. The Angliru is also very steep, but it’s more regular. The last three kilometres were horrible. It was steeper than the Angliru. I almost fell off the back of my bike.”

    Ten Dam echoed his sentiments. “It was perhaps a great show for the spectators, but not for the riders. When I came down again, I saw other riders still going up, and it was just unbelievable to watch, terribly steep. I rode with a compact cassette for the very first time in my life. And in the end, I needed it! It was no fun, I was in a cave of pain. Horrible.”

  36. Another brilliant Vuelta stage.

    This has been my favourite GT of the year.

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