The mountain stages at the Vuelta gave us some pretty surprising results...
The ascent up to La Covatilla, although affected by strong wind, saw all the main contenders finish within few seconds from each other, climbing the last 8km (8% gradient) in 23’45”, with a VAM = 1681m/h, equal to 6.00w/kg.
The stage was won by the talented Daniel Martin, sprinting over Mollema and Cobo, but it's Christopher Froome that impressed the most, albeit playing the role of gregario for Wiggins.
The next day time trial in fact confirmed the extraordinary condition of the SKY rider, who managed to place second, 23 seconds ahead of his captain, and conquer the Red Jersey.
The stage arriving at Lagos de Somiedo definitely gave us a better idea of the strength of the main players in this year's Vuelta: in the last 6 km of the climb at 9%, Cobo was the best scoring a VAM of 1747m/h (6.02w/kg), with the duo Wiggins – Froome at 1718m/h (5.94w/kg); Nibali gave in more than 1’30” with a VAM = 1610m/h (5.57w/kg).
The winner of the day, Rein Taaramae, managed to to climb the last 6km at 1651m/h (5.71 w/kg), despite being in a breakaway ever since the beginning.
The Angliru climb, in the decisive 15th stage, proposed an unstoppable Juan Josè Cobo, who was able to equal Contador's 2008 performance in the last 6.5km of the ascent:
COBO = 1900m/h (6.33w/kg)
FROOME and MENCHOV = 1849m/h (6.16w/kg)
WIGGINS = 1810m/h (6.03w/kg)
NIBALI = 1731m/h (5.77w/kg)
In the last 2 km at 15.5% gradient (311 m of difference in height, between 1224m and 1535m of altitude), Cobo climbed in 9'45" at 1913 m/h!
The Geox rider is now holding the lead and I have a feeling it is going to be quite hard to take the Red Jersey off his shoulders...