Movistar top and tail la Vuelta as Italian Time Trial Champion, Adriano Malori has the weather gods on his side and rides in the dry whilst the GC boys look like they’re pedalling on ice around the technical circuit in beautiful and historic Santiago de Compostella.
The last time I stayed in Santiago weeds were sprouting from the cathedral’s lovely facade, so that scaffold was no surprise – a face lift was long overdue.
If the organisers’ gamble had paid off and the race had been down to seconds then there would have been scenes of carnage as desperate men did desperate things on wet cobbles to make time.
However, the post-Stage 21 status quo was such that there was no point in any risks being taken and Dan Martin would have been quicker walking the last 20 metres.
The race reminded me of the 1995 Tour prologue when complete ‘non specialist’ time trial rider, Jackie Durand set the fastest time early, in good conditions only for the heavens to open behind him with none of the ‘chrono men’ able to get near his time on the flooded tarmac.
That was until Chris Boardman launched himself into the gloom; he was 30 seconds up on Durand after just four kilometres when, as L’Équipe put it, he became a ‘Human Bomb,’ came down on a descent, narrowly avoided being run over by his own team car and spent the night in hospital.
And whilst it’s a matter for conjecture, there’s a good chance that Malori would have won the test, irrespective of the downpour.
He won the time trial in the San Luis Tour, was second in the Algarve Tour TT behind Kwiatkowski, won in the Tirreno TT, took a road stage in the Route du Sud, won the Italian National TT Championship, was second to Trek’s Belgian TT Champion, Kristof Vandewalle in the Tour of Poland TT and was one of the big motors in Movistar’s Vuelta TTT win.
In other words, the man isn’t a bad ‘tester.’
Of the GC men, we said it all yesterday, the top ten all rode to their limits and there very few stages where the racing was anything other than fierce and convincing.
The UCI World Tour ranking of the top four riders in the Vuelta further confirms the quality of this race:
Vuelta GC Placing,Rider, UCI World Tour Standing
- Alberto Contador – 1
- Chris Froome – 7
- Alejandro Valverde – 2
- Joaquim Rodriguez – 12
Great racing on often stunning parcours, a great winner and podium – there’s little more you can ask for from a Grand Tour.
Well, maybe if they paid Carlton Kirby to stay at home for those three weeks…