Agree with all that, i'll take your word on the good start, i know i've enjoyed it a lot, and things look setup perfectly for the rest of the race. Good call on Gilbert too, you were tipping him for his first season win after being off form, and i can see why he had been doing so well before.
I think Purito knew he had no chance to beat him in the sprint, and that it didn't matter as he had put time on the others, another great showing from him. He's worn the jersey from his P/T home of Andorra into his hometown of Barca as well, so that would have been added motivation. Valverde also clawed back a few seconds, he's still thereabouts but with a weaker TT and only one tour in his legs after that long break, he's definitely relying on others to fail. Purito himself was playing down his own chances the other day..
“On paper, [Chris] Froome and Alberto [Contador] are going to be stronger than me in the time trial [39. 4 kilometres, on Wednesday],” Rodriguez said afterwards. “For me to win the Vuelta I’m going to have to ride the time trial of my life and then they will both have to have a really bad day.”
“Alejandro [Valverde, fourth overall] and I are more one-day riders who can win Grand Tours – I came close in the Giro and Alejandro has won the Vuelta back in 2009. But these guys [Froome and Alberto] are specialists in the Grand Tours, really good time triallists, and we’re more for the world championships or one-day classics.”
Gilbert/Purito were that bit fresher and smarter and made a perfect break catching everone offguard. It was a great move but i was a little suprised they were allowed to get away, with the chasing pack blown apart at last. No-one was going to help each other to get back on terms, the repeated attacks meant there was no control for the peloton and it made the stage more exciting. Not sure about that move from Bertie if he was just trying to push the pace or got his timing wrong or how much it affected his race, and i have no idea what happened to Froome. I think the exhaustation had definitely caught up by that point, he didn't look good, again. Sky as a team have certainly dipped and they as well as everyone else were probably glad for the rest day.
Today looks a basic stage to ease them back in a bit before the TT, which is looking even more important, with the way the guys are split by around a minute, hopefully this acts as a leveller and we can see the main guys as close as possible afterwards. As we get into the longer climbs it's going to suit the favourites more, you would expect Contador to come into his own and then it's whether Froome can stick with him. Still, we don't know how things will turn out and who has the form and the legs. One really bad day and you could be out the running.
Apparently the break could get away today.
As flat as Spain gets:
Sitting between the first rest day and the race’s only individual time trial, this is one of the route’s easiest days. Starting in Ponteareas, which hosted its first Vuelta stage start last year, the riders will head over the only categorised climb of the day after 30km. The route then sticks close to the sea, climbing over some headlands before a run in to the finish. The sprinters will naturally fancy this one but any breakaway riders should have a good chance of battling it out between them as plenty of riders will be holding back for the time trial. The wind could be a key factor, too, given the proximity to the Atlantic.