As the days go by, we are now in the ninth stage, the efforts, the kilometres and the time gaps add up for everyone. Froome leads the overall with 28 seconds on Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and 41 on Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing).
“On the big climbs, if you have an off-day you can lose minutes but on these days you can limit your losses,” Sky’s Diego Rosa told Cycling Weekly.
“But these climbs add up and at the end, you have to pay the bill. The bill will arrive when we get to the big climbs.”
A short and steep climb and descent ended the day in Andorra on the third day. The 3.4-kilometre Santa Lucía climb in Alcossebre ended stage five. On stage six, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) tried to broke the group on the final Puerto Del Garbí climb, 9.3 kilometres long, at 36.4 kilometres from the finish.
Stage eight’s final climb over to Xorret de Catí covered five kilometres yesterday and today’s stage nine Cumbre del Sol finish climbs four kilometres – they are nothing like the long 15-kilometre climbs over 2000 metres that begin in the second week.
“We’ve only had a maximum of three- to four-kilometre climbs in the first week of the Vuelta,” said Froome. “Those climbs have been extremely decisive, typical Vuelta, steep, and they have produced some time gaps.
“[The time differences in the first week are] going to change the dynamic in the later part of the race, who has to attack from far out and who can sit in the wheels and just follow.”
And they could produce the winner. Froome lost the race by 1-23 minutes last year, so it could be argued summation of time from the first week pave the way to any eventual win.
“Yes for sure, they can make the overall difference,” Contador’s coach and sports director, Steven De Jongh said.
“They are hard and every stage has been tough racing in the final.”
“Everyday it seems like a copy-n-paste, with the climbs of 10 or 12 minutes,” Roche explained. “The Cumbre del Sol is another 4K climb, with an average of 10% and 20% sections in the middle.
“These days of short climbs.. every day it’s the same, 10 to 12 seconds, but at the end of the week, that’s one minute, 30 seconds.”
“When we come into the longer climbs, it’s going to be a different pace. It will be all about pacing yourself on those climbs compared to the short climbs.”