The stage had everything you don’t wish to see and everything you do, all at the same time. It was a stage full of drama but which, when it came down to the details of the standings, didn’t have a dramatic impact. Cycling can be funny that way. It was the incidents rather than the results that told the story. Cycling can be so often that way.
It would be quite the achievement to win a Tour de France and a Vuelta a Espana in the same year. It would be all the more remarkable to do it without winning a stage in either. The former is still on for Chris Froome, but any hopes of the later, not that he would have held any, vanished yesterday on the summit finish to Cumbre del Sol. It was there that Froome kicked hard inside a horrid final 500m to shatter the last man hanging onto his wheel and take a fine victory. Not even Alberto Contador, so often his match in recent days, could hang on.
I didn’t get seeing much of the stage but when I did turn on I thought for a moment I had traveled back to somewhere around 2009. For there was Alberto Contador, dancing on the pedals and putting everyone into trouble.
They say a solar eclipse can do funny things to animals. Which might explain the reports today of a shark attack in the mountains of Andorra. Over 100km away from the nearest body of salt water as the moon crossed the sun.
The sharks name was Vincenzo Niabli, and it was a predatory attack of stealth precision.. I am speaking of his victory on today’s stage at the Vuelta, of course. Dropped on the final climb he used the descent to make the catch. And once among them he didn’t hesitate. He chewed them up and spat them out, crossing the line with a visible gap; his had mimicking a sharks fin.
Cross winds created a layer of stress today that the contenders could have done without. In the end it didn’t create any major drama though a frantic run in left time gaps measured in the handful of seconds.
The third Grand Tour of the season, The Vuelta a España, got underway today. And if it seems like no time since the Tour ended, that is because it isn't. A quick vacation for myself, a week or so to get back to normal and bang, another big race.
So the Tour is over. Won and done. One for the history books. All that is left now, before turning the page on it, is to take a quick look back. A few thoughts on the winners, a review of my predictions and some awards before saying goodbye. Then I’m off on my holidays for a while. I won’t be bringing my bike and I won’t be thinking about professional cycling either. I’ll return, I hope, in time for the Vuelta.