Vuelta 2008 - Part II
22 Sep 2008
Levi Leipheimer won the final time trial Navacerrada, setting the best intermediates both in the flat part (9km at 51.2 km/h) and the uphill part (8 km at 6.8%, VAM = 1466 m/h).
Alberto Contador was 31" behind him, having lost 11 seconds in the flat and an additional 20 on the climb: therefore the strongest climber of the moment, not forgetting he's an excellent time trial performer too, gave in on his most favorable ground to Leipheimer, another time trial specialist.
Such fact is not so out of ordinary, considering both athletes are in excellent condition and have a similar size (body weight around 60 kg).
Indeed very often the history of cycling presented similar situations, where "passista" athletes would perform better than climbers in uphill time trials: for example in the final uphill time trial in the 1994 Giro d' Italia, I remember that in the part of Passo del Bocco (950m of climbing at 8%) Berzin and Indurain were faster than Pantani, who had dominated the previous mountain stages and was able to be on the podium in Milano behind Berzin.
Contador easily conquered the general classification then, an edition of the Vuelta somewhat short in emotions, with Valverde once again not being able to confirm the improvements for stage races he had showed in the 2006 edition (2nd behind Vinokourov).
The Murcian rider, who in my opinion is potentially stronger than Contador, recently picked up lower pedaling cadences again, this being a negative factor in the bigger picture of stage races.