Harry Tanfield has been prominent in a couple of stages at La Vuelta and rode well to finish last on the Angrilu on Sunday. To celebrate Harry's accomplishment on this hardest of stages and because it's interesting to see the mindset of aspiring riders making good, we present again our chat with him from six years ago when he was making a name for himself in Belgium's kermises.
Englishman Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) took his first Grand Tour win on Stage 12 of La Vuelta a España yesterday, attacking just outside the final kilometer of the legendary Alto de l'Angliru, soloing to the finish in a fantastic display of measured, determined riding.
The Vuelta starts in a few day's time and so in this week's 'VV Selects' we look back at our last day covering the race nine years ago, when the stage began in Gijón. We conducted the now-popular 'chat at the team buses' to hear some thoughts from DS's Gert-Jan Theunisse, Dimitri Konyshev, Hendrik Redant and Rik Van Slycke, and various riders such as on-form Carlos Barredo, Greg Van Avermaet and the late Wouter Weylandt.
He’s a versatile man that Michael Mørkøv; world champion on the track, Grand Tour stage winner, Cobbled Classics breakaway specialist, Six Day vedette, Danish Elite Road Race Champion, Classic podium finisher – and now arguably the best lead-out man in the business; right hand man to the man with the most successes this year, QuickStep’s rapid Italian Elite Road Race Champion, Elia Viviani, with 17 winner’s bouquets in 2018.
This Saturday, 13th of January, Unipublic revealed the Vuelta a Espana 2018 route that will take place between the 25th of August and the 16th of September. The Spanish tour will depart from the Pompidou Centre in Malaga, in another clear example of the organisation’s aim to combine sports, culture and innovative departures.
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.
Samuel Sanchez summed it up best in the BMC press release for Stage 20 to Ancares; "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.
VeloVeritas cycling sage, Vik hates those narrow bars Adam Hansen uses - they're to make him more aero and save those precious watts - but they certainly didn't do him any harm, today in Cangas de Morrazo. 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...
‘Alberto defends lead in spite of heavy bombardment at Monte Castrove en Meis,’ 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.
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.
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.
Przemyslaw Niemiec wins today, but 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...
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. When it comes to stage wins the ‘Home Boys’ always reach deep into their top hats to find a rabbit with Daniel Navarro at last giving Cofidis something to smile about.
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 on the stage from Pamplona and the Media can stop asking daft questions about imaginary feuds in the Movistar camp.
Alberto Contador Velasco (Tinkoff & Spain) pulled on the red jersey, raised his bouquet to his adoring fans in Borja 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!’
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.’
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, with Nacer Bouhanni prominent.
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.
Alessandro Valverde was hugely impressive – not the shadow of himself we saw in the last week of the Tour. 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.
Our old friend and former Six Day man, ‘Brit,’ Norman Hill suggested to us that we should ‘have a word’ with the man who was his Six Day ‘runner’ on the winter boards circuit back when there were up to 17 Six Day races every winter, Marvin Smart, who was also an innovator in the field of advertising on the actual track surface – such an important factor in a Six Day organiser’s budget plans.
Is it me or is Quintana just TOO pink; he looks like something from Toy Story gone feral – but when you can climb like he can then you can get away with pretty much anything, I guess? It looks like the Giro is won; even if he has an off day in the mountain test or Zoncolan it’s unlikely the little chap will concede 1:41 to Uran and even less likely he’ll drop 3:29 to Rolland & Co. It’s been a great race and even though it’s now pretty much certain that the small gentleman from Tunja on the Pan American Highway in Colombia will win and Uran will be second, the battle for the third spot on the podium – and just maybe the second one, too – rages on.
All you’ll read about for the foreseeable future are Porte, Aru, Uran and Contador – plus others who the press will ‘big up’ to make it seem like someone other than those four can win. But of course, there isn’t. So if you’ll forgive us if we’re going back to a time when our champions didn’t Tweet but had much more worth talking about - Germany's Mike Kluge is our man; quality road rider, triple World Cyclo-Cross Champion, top mountain bike rider and equipment innovator – he’s the man who started Focus bikes in 1992.
Roadside at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and KBK 2018. The first classic weekend of the year has been and gone and safely back in a rather snowy Scotland I've got time to reflect on the Classic season opener. The glorious Belgian sunshine all weekend could not lift the thermometer and the riders endured bitterly cold conditions for both Het Nieuwsblad or Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
I bought most of the 'quality' Sundays, yesterday - to see what they had to say about the Giro d'Italia 2012. The Observer and Times ? nada. The Independent at least had the result. The Herald had a micro mug shot of Phinney and told us that he also won the opening stage of the Giro in 2010? However, the Times did have the 'Sports Rich List.' At number one in the UK is Becks with a fortune worth £160 million. On the world stage it's Tiger Woods, worth £538 mil.
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