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OVIEDO, Spain (VN) — The Vuelta a España is heating up, but not just on the roads through northern Spain this week. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff believe power meters create a controlled race and would like them banned.
While most riders were enjoying Monday’s rest day, the stars sat down with the press to speak about the Spanish grand tour so far. The Lagos de Covadonga stage was fresh on everyone’s mind. Colombian Quintana and Spaniard Contador rode away from the group and seemingly put Tour de France champion Chris Froome of Sky in danger. Froome, however rode a steady pace over the final 9 kilometers and caught and passed everyone but Quintana.
It made for a thrilling pursuit: Quintana vs. Froome, the showdown that never materialized in the Tour de France. But some did not appreciate Froome’s measured response.
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“I believe the power meters block the show in the races,” said Contador, who lost 44 seconds to Froome. “Now, it’s very much controlled. If you have a powerful team and a rider attacks, you can control him. You can do that over 20 minutes. That’s how it is today.”
Contador, a three-time Vuelta champion, trails overall leader Quintana in the overall by 2:54. Quintana’s Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde sits second overall at 57 seconds, while Froome is 1 second further back in third.
“They take away a lot of show and make you race more cautiously,” Quintana said of power meters. “I’d be the first in line to say they should be banned.”
Racing to the numbers has been a hot topic over the last 10 years as power meters swept through the peloton. In the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico, Vincenzo Nibali slammed Sky for what he called racing by the numbers.
“SRM meters help to train and prepare for races but in the races, those numbers don’t mean anything,” Nibali said. “SRMs give you a lot of data for the future. In races, though, you don’t need those numbers. You must have the capacity to read the race.”
After Froome warmed down from Monday’s stage 10, he said at the team bus he was “riding on feeling.”
“[I was] not necessarily riding by numbers but riding on feeling, just riding with what I felt I could do on the climb in the most efficient way to get up there, not to lose every more time,” Froome said. “Who knows, maybe if I’d gone, really pushed myself at the beginning, I would’ve lost even more time. I felt like that was the quickest way for me to get up there today.”
When asked about the notion of banning power meters in racing after Wednesday’s stage 11, Froome scoffed, saying, “Why not, and then we can also go back to single-speed bikes without gears. Why not, eh?”
Quintana too rode a steady rhythm, one that was faster than Froome’s. Contador, however, paid for his hard early effort and his attacks later to try to drop Quintana.
Now, at nearly three minutes back, Contador is downplaying his chances to win a fourth title.
“Maybe now I should analyze the tactics, maybe I should have been more cautious. Sometimes I am too impulsive. But that’s me and it’s hard for me to change my style of racing,” Contador said. “It is complicated to beat [Froome] no matter what I could do now.”