Because I was in Montreal over the weekend watching the big race up there, I missed the last minute drama at the Vuelta, or the lack thereof. I’m led to believe that Saturday’s final mountain stage was still a superb days racing as Chris Froome buried everyone else and sealed his second place finish overall but couldn’t get rid of Alberto Contador who then in return buried him and won the stage (and the Vuelta), but it seems Contador was therefore never really troubled and any hopes that Froome might somehow take the outcome of this Vuelta into the final days time-trial never materialised.
A stunning performance by Contador…not just winning this stage, his second stage win of the race, but the fact he returned from a broken leg suffered at the Tour de France little more than six weeks ago to win here.
Chris Froome may not have been in tip-top form when he arrived at this Vuelta, but then again, was Contador? And Froome had surely found his form by the final week and yet still couldn’t change the outcome. We never got to see the pair battling it out on the roads of France in July, and so attention turned to this Vuelta once both made it clear they would be riding. And they delivered a superb show.
You can never say whether this was how the Tour would have turned out had both stayed in because, as I said, their form was surely different going into the Tour than it was the Vuelta. And would either of them have beaten a healthy Nairo Quintana at this Vuelta? Or indeed the Vincenzo Nibali we seen at the Tour? Put it this way: Nibali beat Alejandro Valverde at the Tour this year by almost ten minutes and Contador was only able to put a little shy of two minutes into what was surely a more worn down Valverde at this Vuelta.
That of course is all speculative because no two races are the same never mind two Grand Tours held in different countries in different months and on entirely different routes. We’ll never know how each race might have went had Contador, Froome, Quintana and Nibali all raced one another in the same Tour, or at least we’ll have to wait until next year to find out when I can only hope we get all four of them lining up at one of the three Grand Tours and targeting it as their goal for the season.
What we can say with complete certainty is that the men who won their respective Grand Tours from Quintana at the Giro to Nibali at Le Tour to Contador this weekend at the Vuelta: They all deserved it; nobody wins a Grand Tour and doesn’t deserve it, and Contador has shown that there’s still plenty of life left in him yet.
Final overall classification:
1. Contador (TCS) in 81h25’05”
2. Froome (SKY) +1’10”
3. Valverde (MOV) +1’50”
4. Rodriguez (KAT) +3’25”
5. Aru (AST) +4’48”
6. Sanchez (BMC) +9’30”.