Welcome to our Rest Day Review, a look back at the highlights of the first week. Remember all those jokes about getting sent to the salt mines for misdemeanours?
Those World Tour riders must have been real bad to get this gig; a 13.4 kilometre team time trial around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja with the first kilometre surrounded by thousands of tons of the stuff, small bags, big bags and a range of small white hills.
Tour TTT tamers, Jumbo Visma were favourites but stacked up on a tight corner made ‘aero bike-trap’ by water which allegedly leaked from a kiddies’ paddling pool.
To add insult to injury, the parked up Jumbo team car baulked those other TTT maestros, reigning world champions, Deceuninck QuiickStep who lost to Astana by a scant two seconds.
UAE also tasted well-salted tar when they came down too.
If we resort to Eurosport commentator, ‘Rob Hatch Speak’ for a moment, that put Colombia’s “Sooperr Maahnn” Lopez in the jersey of leadership.
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From Benidorm to Calpe with the organisers dubbing it a ‘sprinters’ stage; the 20 kilometre Confides climb, maybe?
It was long but not savagely steep and came early in the day – they could breast that.
But the steep ramps of the 3.1 kilometre Puig climb in the last hour?
As they say in Belgium; ‘nae, nae, nae!’
It was so much of a ‘sprinters’ stage that it was a group of GC riders who contested the finale with a cheeky, late escape giving former Vuelta winner, Nairo Quintana (Movistar & Spain) the win and Nico Roche (Sunweb & Ireland) the red jersey, stealing it by a handful of seconds from Lopez.
The Astana riders breathed a sigh of relief and wished Sunweb ‘good luck’ as Roche tugged on the tunic, which fortunately had long sleeves and covered those tattoos.
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From Ibi to Alicante and with a couple of ascents; but nothing as severe as the Puig and with the last kilometres off the Puerto de Tibi predominantly downhill, giving plenty of opportunity to get back on if ‘the man with the hammer’ got you on the climb.