Tag Archive for ‘La Vuelta a España’
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 21; Santiago de Compostela (ITT), 10 km. Adriano Malori Home and Dry (0)
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.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 20; Santo Estevo de Riba de Sil – Ancares, 163.8 km. Contador Dominates (0)
Samuel Sanchez summed it up best in the BMC press release for Stage 20; “To understand how was hard it was, you only have to look at the riders’ faces.” That was certainly true of Chris Froome, his face ashen, skin tight on his skull, eyes popping, gasping for air like a dying fish.
Not just from the effort but from the disappointment of having burned his Sky team to last match head then given his all, only for Alberto Contador to sit there as cool as a glass of Pimm’s on a summer’s day, soak up all the punishment then put 16 seconds into the Englishman in the last few hundred metres.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 19; Salvaterra de Miño – Cangas de Morrazo, 176.5 km. Adam Hansen Takes the Win! (0)
VeloVeritas cycling sage, Vik hates Adam Hansen’s narrow bars – they’re to make him more aero and save those precious watts – but they certainly didn’t do him any harm, today.
Not just a win; he’s saved Lotto’s Vuelta – it goes from ‘Ligthart and Hansen enlivening the breakaways’ to ‘stage winning’ and that’s about a million miles. By good fortune we had a chat with the man just before this Vuelta kicked off…
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 18; A Estrada – Monte Castrove en Meis, 173.5 km. Fabio Aru with Froome Calling the Shots (0)
‘Alberto defends lead in spite of heavy bombardment,’ says the Saxo-Tinkoff press release – with Chris Froome the man in charge of the howitzers. Christopher may not be stylish but the man is a bike racer – and that has to be respected. The tactic is simple, when the road goes up and the pace eases back a notch – attack!
It nearly netted him the win today but Aru is young, hungry, skinny and pretty quick for a mountain man. But Froome did climb to second on the ‘virtual’ podium and claw back some time on Contador.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 17; Ortigueira – A Coruña, 174 km. Degenkolb’s secret? Cinnamon Cookies! (0)
There was the chance that the break would stick; but with John Degenkolb’s Giant boys working themselves into the tar for him – and having done their homework by riding the stage finale on the rest day – and the likes of Ferrari and Matthews fancying their chances now that Bouhanni is back in France, not to mention Sky piling it on to keep Froome out of trouble, it was odds on to be a sprint finish.
Despite having burned up his boys to get the break back and flying solo in the technical finale, Degenkolb surfed the wheels that went too early and laid down that raw power to take his fourth stage of the 2014 – respect.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 16; San Martin del Rey Aurelio – La Farrapona, 158.8 km. Contador From Froome (0)
My son reckons he’s on something and will, ‘get caught; there’s no way he could break his leg in the Tour and then be as strong as he is…
Let’s hope (and pray) not; but my perspective is different – I think Alberto Contador is one of the greatest stage racers the world has ever seen and as such you can’t compare him to lesser mortals. People forget that Contador has been as close to death as a man can get and still survive.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 15; Oviedo – Lagos de Covadonga, 149 km. Przemyslaw Niemiec Impresses (0)
It’s just morbid curiosity which compels me to watch Chris Froome (Sky & Monaco/England/South Africa/Kenya) these days – he climbs like a stick insect with Saint Vitus Dance. It upsets me; but distressing or not, it gets him up them hills, albeit in his own mystifying style – off the back, off the front…
But it was the former at the top of Covadonga where the Valverde (Movistar & Spain) and Rodriguez (Katusha and Catalonia) tandem put time into Froome and red jersey Contador (Tinkoff and Spain) – albeit not a lot of time but enough to make us wonder if Valverde just might be ‘the man.’
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 14; Santander – La Camperona, 199 km. Ryder Hesjedal Stays Clear (0)
There used to be a Scottish football player called Frank McGarvey, he played for Celtic, St. Mirren, Queen of the South and Clyde. The worst job an opposing manager could give one of his players was to ‘mark’ Frank – stay close to him and anticipate his next move.
As a man once entrusted with this task told me; ‘how could you tell what Frank was going to do next when he didn’t know himself?’ It must be a bit like that when you ride against Chris Froome; ‘well, that’s Froome popped – Jeez! he’s back! – who’s that attacking? – it’s not Froome, is it?’
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 13; Belorado – Obregón, 182 km. Daniel Navarro for Spain and Cofidis (0)
Stage 13 took things back up a level but on a parcours which didn’t make for ‘The Bigs’ to do anything but mark each other. Unlike the Tour de France where there have been years where the honour of France has been saved by a single stage win by the likes of Sandy Casar, the Vuelta has always inspired it’s children with Spaniards well to the fore.
If the 2014 Tour de France was the first time since 1997 a Frenchman appeared on the podium, you have to go back to 1996 to find the last occasion there was no Spaniard on the Vuelta podium and that doesn’t look like changing. Similarly, when it comes to stage wins the ‘Home Boys’ always reach deep into their top hats to find a rabbit with Dani Navarro at last giving Cofidis something to smile about.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 11; Pamplona – San Miguel de Aralar (Navarre), 151 km. Fabio Aru Shines Thru (0)
We had a feeling that Quintana would find it very hard to continue in this Vuelta – whilst the man is hugely talented he’s not at the level he was in the Giro and to make up three minutes on Messrs. Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde was never going to be easy.
His morale was in his boots anyway but then fate intervened, down he went and the Media can stop asking daft questions about imaginary feuds in the Movistar camp. Fabio Aru – his Giro performance spoke for itself; Contador says the young Italian reminds him of his own youthful self – Aru reminds me of a young Nibali.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 10; Monasterio de Veruela – Borja (ITT), 34.5 km. Nairo Crashes, Contador Leads (0)
Alberto Contador Velasco (Tinkoff & Spain) pulled on the red jersey, raised his bouquet to his adoring fans then offered his clenched right fist up to his chest. The man has a big heart in there, for sure – all that was missing was Kiss pumping on the PA, ‘Back in the New York Groove,’ the line which goes; ‘this place was meant for me!’
Joy for the man from Pinto but pain for the race leader from the other side of the world as Columbia’s Nairo Quintana (Movistar) chose exactly the wrong place to faff with his shoes, took his eye off the ball and stacked hard against the crash barriers on a right hander.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 9; Carbonera de Guadaza – Valdelinares, 181 km. Winner Wins and Chad Chats (0)
Stage Nine to Valdelinares; a horrible day after the baking heat of Andalucía – but joy at last for Lampre with Anacona after the Ulissi and Horner debacles. But where the hell is Pippo?
Perfect tactics from Movistar; “we’ve got a man in the break, why would we chase?…” And they keep the jersey – and despite the best efforts of the Media to rustle up a feud, Quintana and Valverde seem to us to be working a perfect ‘one – two.’
The other day we commented on the sheer brutality of pro bike racing as Alejandro Valverde tore the race to shreds on the horrible ascent of Cumbres. But the fact is that the parcours don’t even have to be hilly for the racing to be savage.
On Stage Eight to Albacete, once the break got caught with around 20 miles to go it looked like standard sprinter stage fare – Giant, Lampre, F de J and GreenEDGE would control it for their sprinters. But at the least suggestion of a cross wind it was Tom Boonen who initiated the word which strikes fear into the heart of any climber – ‘echelon.’
As Dario Cioni once told us; ‘sometimes it’s nice for the big teams to get it wrong and the break to stay away.’
Big Italian Alessandro De Marchi was originally a team pursuit rider and paid his dues for three years in the low budget but big achieving Androni squad before stepping up to the World Tour with Cannondale, last year.
He won a Dauphine stage last season and won the mountains jersey in the same race earlier this season as well as being voted le Tour’s most aggressive rider.
La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 6; Benalmadena – Cumbres Verdes (La Zubia), 157.7 km. Valverde Takes Over (0)
It’s like Robert Millar said; ‘there comes a day when you have to stop dreaming.’ That day was yesterday for many as we were reminded of the savagery of professional bike racing at the highest levels. There were no interlopers – just the best of the best, all of the pre-race favourites trying their best to waste each other on that horrible grind to the line.
It was a hard climb to deal with, not a long col for the pure climbers, or a ramp for the explosive guys – as Rodriguez discovered – but somewhere inbetween and very difficult to read, especially with the way it sliced straight across the hillside with nothing to break it up…