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Tag: La Vuelta a España 2009
The Vuelta has finished, so has the Tour of Britain, the Worlds are this weekend, the crosses have started and there's a nip in the air in the mornings - autumn is here. My favourite time of the year: in Scotland it rains less, the skies are blue, the air is fresh and leaves are so beautiful as they turn.
Barring accidents or a dreadful time trial on Saturday it looks like Alejandro Valverde has stitched up his first Grand Tour (at last!). At the end of all of the big stage races we need to ask some questions and La Vuelta a España throws up some thought-provokers! I think it was a good Vuelta - the start in Holland was a great success, personally I was wrong about the time trial on a closed circuit, it had a big crowd as did all the Dutch roads, and it was the same in Germany and Belgium.
Adam Hansen was just off the massage table when we caught up with him on Tuesday evening, we couldn't talk during massage because the masseur is a; "full on techno anthems, trance guy,"-just like Davie Urquhart, then? (Just joking, Davie!) Team mate Andrei Greipel had just taken his third win of the Vuelta-and Columbia's 80th of the year.
Talking to people who had been to the start in Holland and the stages through Belgium and Germany it was a great success which attracted bigger crowds than expected, if they could only have moved the Spanish weather there it would have been perfect. The stages up there were not expected to affect the eventual overall out-come, but the next week in the area of Valencia were, and did!
I was coming down the 'parachutes' in the Transit on Friday - the old East 25 course - when I got the text message from Dave; 'Garcia and Hesjedal away with two K to go.' I was talking to Ryder only last night-about his great ride on stage 9, when he was second to Simon Gerrans; then the next text came in; 'Your man has won!'
VeloVeritas first met Kiwi Tim Gudsell (FranÃ§aise des Jeux) at Ghent Wevelgem, back in the spring; he was on the way back from a bad crash in the Tour Down Under-six months later he's much further south, the hills are a lot bigger and it's much warmer as we spoke to him after the Vuelta's second mountain stage.
Christian Meier (Canada & Garmin) is a man for his stats. Monday's mountain stage breaks down like this: 4,600 metre of climbing, 5,000 kilo joules expended, that's the equivalent of 5,400 calories - that's one hard day at the office. We caught up with the 2008 Canadian Elite road race champion the evening after Cunego had demonstrated that he's in shape for the Worlds and Lombardy.
It was like Xmas, hustling the Transit across town to John Anderson's shop - to get my 'Vuelta presie' courtesy fellow 'Pezzer' Al Hamilton. The last one was my Vuelta gillet; only used abroad, somehow a Vuelta gillet doesn't work at Wallyford. Anyway; it was a book, packed with stats on every Vuelta from the first one in 1935 up 'til last year - heaven! Let's browse!
"Today the 204.7km eighth stage from Azlira to Alto de Aitana tackles seven rated climbs before the finish-line summit at the Aitana climb, rated 'especial' in the Vuelta as a stage ending atop a climb. At 21.7km long with an average grade of 5.7 percent, the Aitana climb will give a first good indication of who's up to winning the race." I couldn't have put it better me self; but that's what the Cervélo: press release had to say tonight.
Borut Božič, no, I didn't know much about him either, 'til I checked him out. He turned pro in 2004 with Perutnina Ptuj (Ptuj being the capital of Slovenia) and took four wins that year-a stage in the Jadranska Magistrala in Croatia; two stages in the Tour of Slovenia and a stage in the Tour of Serbia.
It was a sad day today for VeloVeritas' newly married editor Martin; he had to go back to his day job-and on the rest day! Life just isn't fair! Meanwhile we caught up with Columbia's ex Aussie Elite TT champion and twice podium finisher in the Aussie Elite road race champs, Adam Hansen, to get the story so far as the Vuelta eventually returns home.
Greipel - Columbia again ! It's been quite a season for the US team, the wins started and have never stopped. Griepel takes another stage.That was what Adam Hansen cited as the main difference between the old T-Mobile and the new High Road-Columbia; "now, we win races!"
- Reported by Alasdair Maclennan - I've been out here for the weekend, and I thought more people would have made the easy journey from the UK to Holland for a Grand Tour depart but so far the only ones we've bumped into are Neil and Maria Martin who are here for obvious reasons. I had my doubts about the Assen TT before we arrived but it turned out to be a spectacular venue with at least half the course visible from the stands.
Dave was giving me the SMS updates on stage 2; when it came together I decided that it was between Tyler and Tom - wrong again. Greg Henderson, another Columbia boy made good - how many wins is that, now? 70-odd! He was working for Greipel, looked back saw he wasn't there, looked up, saw the line, sprinted - and won his first Grand Tour stage; simple as that.
A Clean Vuelta? I hope so, but let's look at the facts: The Spanish sports papers quote Oscar Freire; "Rabobank want a stage win in Holland" and I'm sure all the other teams want the same, but the Dutch bank have spent a lot of money bringing La Vuelta a España to Holland for the race start.
Sunday, I did my hour on the bike this morning; had my shower, washed me vest and hat - time to amble down to the newsagents to pick up The Observer. Just to see the prologue result in print; there might even be a paragraph or two, but no - "nada." As far as the press goes, there's the Tour and the Olympics - and drugs, of course.
La Vuelta a España in Holland! So, La Vuelta a España started on Saturday in the Dutch town of Assen, joining in with the other Grand Tour by starting outside its borders. The Spanish Tour has done this once before, but it was still on the Iberian Peninsula; Lisbon in Portugal. Anyway, here are my (rhetorical) questions: Why did it start in Assen? And why have an opening TT on the motor racing circuit?
Fabian Cancellara - I got that one right; and I said that Tyler Farrar would be right up there, as Meat Loaf would say; "two outta three ain't bad!" Tom Boonen in second was a surprise; it's good to see him back. I like Boonen, I don't condone his cocaine use - he's meant to be a roll model - but he's young, full of fun and human.
I did a Vuelta preview the other day; I mentioned the Castillan (Spanish), Basque, Catalan and Galician languages. But Al Hamilton has put me right; "Spain has five languages registered at the EU; Castillano, Basque, Galician, Catalan and Valenciano." It reminded me of what they say about Belgium; "there's no such place as Belgium." It's a conundrum, that diversity is what makes Spain the country it is.
La Vuelta; have you seen the parcours ? Brutal ! In my opinion, too hard; if it was Italy or Spain they'd engineer it to suit the characteristics of the 'home boy,' but in España it's one for the mountain men - maybe they forgot that Alberto wasn't riding; that we may have seen the best of Carlos; that Valverde will have a bad day and that José Manuel Fuente and Luis Ocaña have left us (God rest their souls).