Jen­sie looks back at the Vuelta and its two main pro­tag­o­nists: Froome & Con­ta­dor

Procycling - - Gp Quebec & Montereal - Jens Voigt re­tired in 2014 fol­low­ing an 18-year ca­reer as one of the sport's most loved and at­tack­ing rid­ers. He held the Hour Record for 42 days. Com­men­ta­tors never did agree how to pro­nounce his name.

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

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