a rather long and amazing race in Mongolia kept me away from the computer for about 2 weeks (lordy lordy hallelujah) and as a result depraved PezCycling News of my lowdowns on the Vuelta.
but fear not, folks, for there was just time to get one in, the final roundup of the Spanish Grand Tour.
read it and weep.
click on the image below to go to the article on PEZ.
Well, Lee, s always I agree on some things and disagree on others….
First, I have said before and will say again, that you really need to give Contador his due.
He was up against a very talented set of riders and was coming back from serious injury- as was Froome and Purito.
He managed his time off the bike better, made fewer mistakes, played smarter poker, paced himself better and was the strongest rider when it mattered- the long ITT and the 2 big MTFs.
Froome’s incredible accelerations were enough to drop the entire peloton save Alberto, and he in turn was able to crack Froome twice in one week…
As a result, even if we accept the argument that AC has “only” has won 6 GT’s that is still as many as Nibali (3), Valverde (1), Quintana (1), Froome (1) and Purito (0) COMBINED.
The man is simply the most talented GT rider since Hinault. Full Stop.
More than that, ANY race is instantly more interesting and more compelling when he pins on a race number, because you know that in stark contrast to Valverde- He will NOT be racing for third.
With Contador its win or fail spectacularly- Sometimes it works (Fuente de) sometimes not (2013 TdF) but you KNOW that the man will ride until he drops.
Its ironic that you are asking SKY to do kamikaze tactics that you know will make them break out in a rash when Contador does these crazy things time and time again- Dude, we NEED him in the peloton.
Your suspicion of Contador is well established, but he took his suspension, the gutting of his palmares, and an exquisite ass whooping last year in the TdF with minimum fuss.
Dude re-grouped, trained ike a freaking Monk and came back stronger than ever this year, finishing 1st or 2nd in every race he finished this season.
Even after he injured himself due to ostensible carelessness in France, the man fought back with Chris Horner-like regenerative skills to come back to form during one of the hottest, hardest GT’s in a while
You HAVE to respect that…
Also, if you question AC’s right to race, you should also reserve some of your righteous indignation for Chris Froome, who is not afraid to use clever TUE’s , the occasional puff or three from an inhaler, Tramadol (reportedly) or SKY/UCI family connections to his benefit when it worked for him.
You yourself have admitted that this was all a bit slimy, and so its continually disappointing when you fail to mention this in your critique of the race…
I do agree that SKY is an unimaginative team, and that Froome while incredibly strong, extremely resilient and amazingly talented is an esthetically poor rider with zero panache, questionable bike handling skills and zero imagination or creativity on the bike.
His tactics can be read by Stevie Wonder from 3 miles away and he is utterly predictable- provided you have the legs, he can be placed in an impossible situation- As AC demonstrated last week.
The SKYbots are also losing some of their potency as talented young riders (The Brothers Yates come to mind) realise that the money they make is not worth the career they will be forced sacrifice at the blue altar on Mt Teide.
As long as they continue to race to a number, and burn their young riders out (WTH is Joe Dombrowski??) SKY will struggle in situations that call for spontaneity, panache, class, or tactical nous…
Its why Fabio Aru in his first year in the big time has more GT stage wins (3) than the entire SKY team (0) this season
That said, Froome absolutely rode his guts out and did everything he could to win for which he should be applauded- I definitely respect him a bit more after seeing him grimly battle back day after day after day….
Clearly, if Purito and Valverde were more focused on the win, and had more respect for Froome’s fighting spirit, they would have cooperated with Alberto and Buried Froome on the road to Covadonga…
They gave him an extra chance and he made them both regret it-
Contador knew better, and tried to put a foot on his neck at EVERY opportunity…
All in all, it was a wonderful race, easily the best quality racing of this year’s GT’s and one that will make its way into many DVD collections!
Good luck with your races!