Well, the last three days have been both exciting and decisive. Valverde’s still in gold, and has put time into his opponents, despite having a dodgy moment on the steepest bit of the last ascent of yesterday’s stage. Assuming he doesn’t have either an accident, a mechanical (like Evans) or a bad day, the gold jersey is his to take home.
Other points of interest: we saw Cadel Evans attack, albeit not for long; Johnny Hoogerland, the supreme escape artist of la Vuelta, is in 12th place; Amael Moinard is the best placed Frenchman in 15th.
One of my faves, Sammy Sanchez, had to grit his teeth on two occasions, when others have attacked and left him distanced, to work his way back, and now lies 3rd, up from 6th. I’ve looked at the remaining stages and while there’s downhill finishes to both stages 15 and 19, I don’t think they’re decisive enough to allow him to take back enough time on Valverde, but maybe on Gesink. We’ll have to see. Likewise, I see little opportunity for Basso and Evans to get on the podium, unless bad karma is visited on those above.
The peloton is much diminished, down to 154 riders, by the departures of those who have their sights set on Mendrisio.
Postscript: As I suspected, Sammy did have a go on the final descent today but it was neither steep enough nor technical enough to distance anyone.