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The top two riders at the Vuelta, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador, go head-to-head on the fearsome Cuitu Negru finale.
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Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) enjoyed a superb week at the Vuelta a España. He extended his advantage in the leader’s jersey and won two stages. The punchy Spanish climber is now just 257 points off second spot in the IG Index, currently held by Tom Boonen. If Rodriguez can hold onto his lead and win the Vuelta a España then he should overtake Boonen and claim second spot for himself.
As the Vuelta a España has developed it has become clear that three riders are stronger than the rest of the field. On every mountain top finish Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador have ridden away from the rest of the field. There is just two minutes separating the three Spaniards at the top of the general classification.
Alberto Contador has still yet to win a stage of the race but has come in the top five in seven stages so far. He is currently second overall and just 28 seconds behind Rodriguez. His consistency means in the last week he has become the highest riser in the Index this week. However his lack of stage wins still leaves him outside the top 200. He is now 213th up from 396th last week. There is no doubt he will move into the top 200 if he continues his strong return to the professional peloton after his doping suspension.
While some riders are moving up the Index due to their strong performances at the Vuelta other are dropping down the rankings. Last year’s winner of the race, Juan Jose Cobo, has struggled to replicate his astonishing form. After falling away on hard stages in the first week he has been relegated to the role of domestique for team leader Valverde and had to sacrifice any personal ambitions in the race. His is currently 62nd and has not been able to defend many of the points he won last year. As a result he has continued his slide down the rankings, and this week he fell 11 spots to 49th.
Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) also had a great Vuelta a España in 2011 finishing fourth overall. This year he went into the race as one of Rabobank’s three leaders for GC with Robert Gesink and Laurens ten Dam. Mollema has not been able to keep up with his two teammates during the toughest of stages and is 24th overall while his teammates are both in the top 10. His point losses this week mean he has dropped out of the top 20. Taking his place is German speedster John Degenkolb who continued his domination of the sprint stages at the Vuelta this week. He has four stage wins in the race so far and is now 19th in the IG Pro Cycling Index one place above Matthew Goss.
There was only one change in the top ten this week with Andre Greipel moving up to 7th after his second place overall in the inaugural World Ports Classic (Tier 4). This week sees the conclusion of the Vuelta a España but there are also some other races taking place. On Thursday and Sunday the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal take place. These WorldTour races have been growing year on year since their creation. As a result they were moved up a tier at the end of the last year so they now sit in tier two alongside other such one day races like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and La Fleche Wallone. Another race that moved up a tier last year was the Tour of Britain. It is now a tier three race and it gets underway on Sunday with a strong field starting including Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins.
IG are running an competition on their Facebook page during the Tour of Britain to celebrate their sponsorship of it. Prizes will be given out after each stage of the Tour of Britain. Prizes include a Velobici Firenze Pullover, a Specialized S Works Prevail Helmet, a pair of Specialized S Works Shoes, a Garmin Edge 800 GPS, Mavic Ksyrium SLS Wheels, a signed Mark Cavendish World Championship jersey, Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish Fizik Saddles and the grand prize a Specialized Tarmac Expert SL3 Bike & Signed Tour of Britain winners jersey. To be in with a chance of winning enter here.
About the IG Markets Index
The IG Pro Cycling Index is a 12-month rolling ranking system designed answer the question “Who is the best cyclist in the world?” We teamed up with sports data experts Opta to create a comprehensive cycling ranking system that was based on an entirely new formula. We source results from the 120 top international road races throughout the season. Races are ranked by our expert panel, based on their prestige and their importance to cycling fans and put into four tiers in three different categories.
The IG Pro Cycling Index has a number of features that make it unique: Races are tiered depending on history, importance and calibre of field rather than UCI Class. So winning the Tour of Beijing will not give you the same points as winning Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné. Wins carry much greater weight and are rewarded more than placings. Bonus points are awarded for multiple victories in the top races, winning the most prestigious stages at the Grand Tours or winning multiple classics.