Socceroos - Tempo - Lopez
In elite sport, it is all about winning. Winning at all costs and using your resources in the best way possible to win. Against Japan on Thursday in a key World Cup Qualifier the Socceroos had 66% possession and double the number of passes of Japan, but lost the game 2-0. Will people remember the fact that we had 627 passes or the fact that we lost and now have our backs against the wall to qualify for Russia next year? Probably the latter.
Yesterday’s stage 15 of the Vuelta had the potential to be a battle royal for the GC riders with the best part of a 30km climb to the finish line in Sierra Nevada. But with Team Skys unsociable tactics, it was anything but. Like I said this is elite sport and winning is all that matters but the spectacle of professional cycling is being killed off by this tempo riding at 400watts. To aid the distraction from the battle royal that wasn’t, plenty of riders seem happy to run a 4th-10th on GC instead of rolling the dice for a podium finish in Madrid. Who was 7th in this year’s Tour de France? Who cares really.
What we can conclude is that Alberto Contador is not going to bow to the regime of Team Sky. His taking the bull by the horns approach is what lured me into cycling in the late 2000s and it is quickly becoming a thing of the past. He along with young Columbian Miguel Angel Lopez took the race by the scruff of the neck and attacked with 30 odd km to go and were let clear by the Sky led peloton. The gap hovered at 40-50 seconds throughout the final 20km with Lopez eventually chewing up and spitting out Contador with 6km to go with a fierce tempo at altitude of over 2000m (right in the Columbians wheelhouse).
The 23 year old went on to catch A.Yates who was in an earlier escape who he went straight past with the Brit appearing to leave his legs and lungs at the lower altitudes. Lopez pushed on as if he was doing midrange tempo efforts along Beach Road rather that torching all his rivals at 2500m in a Grand Tour, going on to win his 2nd stage of this years Vuelta. For mine Lopez is the best climber in the race, but maybe he has left his GC charge too late. Nibali tried to attack Froome from 12k out and was given a little bit of rope by Froomes sicarios but in the end, it was just a waste of energy from the Shark from Messina, with Nieve and Poels riding to the numbers crunched by the sport scientists in the lab, Nibali didn’t stand a chance on the fastpaced climb. A big hats off to Nibali who rolled the dice and made Froome and his boys earn it unlike the other GC men who were happy to be passengers. In saying that it’s easy to say this from the comfort of the social club but it would have been nice to see riders risk losing 1-2 minutes for the potential gaining of any time on Froome. With a 42km time trial in 2 days ( after the rest day) we will Froomes lead stretch back out to over 2 minutes.
A full week 2 unpack and week 3 preview is to come.
See you back at the social club