Contador - Algebra - AFL
I read last week that the Vuelta is "like that nightclub everyone swears before going out they won’t end up in, but everyone always does." And I’m glad that this has occurred in the 2017 Vuelta because going off last night’s stage, we are in for a race for the ages! With so many quality riders fighting it out for contracts, reputations or to just salvage their season, this year's Vuelta has it all to offer. I said that Contador’s GC chances were all but over after stage 3 but yesterday he showed us just why you should never right off the man who possesses similar qualities to those of Tom Riddle. Maybe it was some poor tactics of Team Sky which invited the attack from Contador to jump across to team mate Pantano, but regardless it’s refreshing for a rider (Contador) to think on his feet and not ride to the plan given to you by someone who loves figuring out the value of x (Team Sky management). Maybe some other riders should have taken the bull by the horns and tested Froome when he was isolated. The chances may be few and far between when the red jersey has to defend himself with his own gun, not those of his sicarios. Hats off Alberto.
As expected a large break of 27 riders established themselves as the break of the day that would survive all the way to the finish. The notable riders in the breakaway were KOM leader Davide Villella, Jarlinson Pantano, Luis Leon Sanchez and plenty more. With such a large group going clear you can understand why Team Sky didn’t let the breakaway get too much rope but as a result keeping them close, too close in my opinion. Let them roam at 5-6 minutes and not give riders the chance of bouncing across to the break from the peloton. At the bottom of the last climb of the day, the gap was around 2 minutes from the peloton to the front of the break that started to splinter on the final climb. With team mate Pantano up the road, Contador launched out of the peloton and bridged across to the Columbian with Chaves, Froome and Van Garderen, the only GC threats who were on his coattails. Froome was isolated with all his team mates being off loaded by a circa 2009 Contador attack. It was still 35km from the finish and reinforcement would come eventually on the downhill for Froome in the form of Wout Poels. With all this going on in what was left of the peloton, we had forgotten about the front of the race which frankly was about as relevant as the Gold Coast Suns' involvement in the AFL. In the end, there were no time gaps within the GC boys, but Contador’s bold display has shown us we have a race on our hands. Bardet lost 6 minutes all but confirming he won’t be fighting for red in Madrid.
Today’s stage is a real tricky one to pick, like picking between penne or rigatoni pasta, I just don’t know. It’s a 207km stage and it's going to be HOT- a real tough day. A bumpy stage with three Cat 3 climbs, the last of which tops out with 13.7km remaining, a perfect launch pad for a late attack. I think a breakaway will go to the finish here again and expect a frantic first two hours with continuous re-shuffling of the deck to get the right combo to go clear. If the break is small, we may see Quickstep, UAE and Lotto invest some horsepower to the chase if they are not represented in the break for their fast men. I have more chance batting in the middle order in this year’s Ashes series than picking the winner of this stage but I will go for Thomas de Gendt.
See you back at the social club