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!
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.
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!'
It was like Xmas, hustling the Transit across town to John Anderson's shop - to get my 'Vuelta presie' courtesy of Al Hamilton. The last one was my Vuelta gillet; only used abroad, somehow a Vuelta gillet doesn't work at Wallyford.
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.
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.
Andre Greipel - Columbia again! It's been quite a season for the US team, the wins started and have never stopped. Andre Greipel 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!"
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.
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!
A Clean La 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, a mention of Iñigo Cuesta...but no - "nada."
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.
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!"
Politics and Cycling... I did a Vuelta preview the other day; I mentioned the Castilian (Spanish), Basque, Catalan and Galician languages.
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).
Vino's back! Richard Pestes's reaction was; "I'm still aghast at the arrogance of that guy.. "
"B & Q car park, Livingston; got me diet Coke and tuna roll, time to settle down and read about Russell's great win in Ireland. I scan "The Guardian" sport section three times - no dice.
There was sunshine on Bishopton, a car park full of riders and shiny bikes - not sure about the guy on the fixed Dolan, though - lots of marshals, pieces to feed the five thousand, the requisite scout hall strip; and - the council cutting the verges down on Westferry. Cones Stop Play...
I've achieved an ambition today - I'm sitting in John Anderson's Six Million Dollar Man pick up truck at the Scottish TTT 2009.
The score may have been Dunfermline 1 Queen of the South 2 at East End Park, the other night, but in Flanders just now it's Guy 24, Mario 22.
Thursday - "Comic Day;" back in 1982 or '83 I was desperate to get my paws on it to read about 'Lloydy' winning the "25."
Beaten by a late goal. I was at the football last night, I took my son to see Dunfermline v. Queen of the South.
Before we talk about Knee Warmers... Matt, our Aussie cobber has clued me in on the Lance gig - he's notching a few K's whilst in here for the U2 gig, before he heads for the Tour of Ireland.
That's 12 days out of 14 or 15 I've been out on the bike; I was getting out regularly before the Giro but life was just so hectic after I came back that I let it go. This time, though, I'm back - I want to ride around the Trossachs with Martin as we do the race report. I spoke to Tyler Farrar tonight, he's always cool to talk to - he proves that you don't necessarily have to be controversial to be a sprinter.
I was out on the bike at crack of dawn today - my buddy John comes over, we go for a potter up the coast then have a coffee and a scone at the Beach House in Portobello - if you see us, give us a smile; scowls use a lot more energy, guys.
The Scottish road race; a nice day, a good course - past the village green at Denholm is cool - well marshalled, a full field.
"Cycling dismay as events frozen out for London 2012" says the headline in the Guardian. The bottom line of the article is that there will still be the same number of women's track events in London - three, sprint, pursuit and team pursuit.