Jensie looks back at the Vuelta and its two main protagonists: Froome & Contador
We saw another very strong performance by Chris Froome in the Vuelta a España this year. He’s obviously the best grand tour rider at the moment, because he’s won four of the last five Tours, but adding the Vuelta in the same season was another step up for him.
Contrary to some other viewers I don’t find it at all boring to see him and Team Sky winning time after time with that much precision and a perfect approach. They should almost get rewarded for the most efficient way of winning a race they set their eyes on. Like we used to say in Germany, “A good horse only jumps as high as necessary.” Sky play it safe and cool, wait for their challengers to get tired or to make some mistakes. And the challengers never fail to fall victim to the Team Sky plan. But what can you do when your own team captain is only as strong as number two or three in the Sky squad? That, my friends, is the mystical question every team is asking themselves.
Maybe we - or they- should start like this... Movistar have Nairo Quintana, one of Froome’s main rivals. But in fact, they start the Tour de France with minus three minutes already. They must know that Quintana will lose that amount of time in the time trials. A similar story maybe goes the other way around for Tom Dumoulin. He also starts with minus two or three minutes before the Tour has even started, simply because he will lose that time in the high mountains. As a logical consequence from that I am sure we all agree that every stage where Nairo and Tom and Chris finish in the same peloton is a lost day for the first two riders and a present for Chris. Teams must realise that if your rider cannot beat the number one head to head then you must find a different way to gain time on your rival. Just waiting in the peloton means basically you race just to be the best of the rest and not for the win. That involves some risk taking and here we are at the next problem. Teams prefer a safe second place to going all-in and maybe winning in spectacular fashion but maybe also losing in spectacular fashion. Teams use more calculation then passion. Teams and riders sometimes seem to act more like tax accountants then passionate athletes. But who can blame them? They have to justify their budgets in front of their sponsors and they need results. And probably they are simply afraid of some press or journalists burning them for acting like that and losing it all if they would go all-in. Believe me, I would praise them for being bold and having a vision. They would get all positive comments from me.
Talking about all-in attacking, it was fascinating and refreshing to see Alberto Contador’s relentless attacks. He just would not give up. One thing is clear: he is not a quitter, he is a fighter. And he finally got rewarded with that long awaited and well deserved stage win. That is a nice way to finish his career in his own country.
Teams must realise that if your rider cannot beat the number one head to head then you must ind a different way to gain time on your rival
Alberto Contador attacked, attacked and attacked again in his inal pro race