What's Cool In Road Cycling

La Vuelta A Espaсa: Second Rest Day Thoughts

They’ve been at it for two weeks now, hard at it, pushing, pulling and heaving. Going at it like all hammer and tongs, backs bent, muscles standing out like whip cord. Keeping it up for as long as they can. Now they are tired, very tired. Well that’s the PEZ honeymoon over, what about the Vuelta a Espaсa?

So what’s been happening? Last years winner, Aitor Gonzбlez of Fassa Bortolo climed off, it’s possible his pocket maybe better off after this year, but for a man who said he would battle with the stars this year and beat Armstrong next year, he’s had a poor season, maybe next year his legs will do the talking.

The young have shown the old a few tricks, Alejandro Valverde from Murcia rides for Kelme. A team who brings young riders on, like in the past Escartin, Heras, Sevilla and Gonzбlez, amongst others. Valverde was known as a bit of a sprinter, try telling that to Heras and Cбrdenas at the top of Sunday’s summit finish of La Pandera when he caught them and passed them for the win. The stage to Andorra finished at the top of the Port D’Envalira, after 2,400 meters of climbing the “sprinter” Valverde took three seconds from the others in the sprint for the line. Alejandro Valverde is a man for the future, only 23 years old; this second year pro has it all in front of him.

Isidro Nozal, 25 years old, five years with the professionals and one victory to his name, until now. Unbeatable in the time trials, strong in the climbs and a good tactical head that’s got him in all the important moves on the flat. Lowly placed David Millar, who had been taking it easy so he could win the time trials, his specialty, was beaten both times on courses that could have been made for him. Nozal is a funny young man, always got some thing to say at the stage end, the interviews with fellow Basque Iсaki, are more like a comedy show. When he won the time trial stage in Albacete the emotion was too much for him and his manager Manolo Saiz, full force tears and bawling, not a dry eye in the house.

So what’s going to happen? How’s it all going to end? Tomorrow’s stage finishes up the Sierra Nevada, a hard long climb, Nozal may lose a little more time, but ONCE still have Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano in reserve in second place. Heras could do a ride in the mountain time trial on Saturday up the Alto de Abantos, personally I think, and hope that Isidro Nozal will hang on to the lead all the way to Madrid.

The only question is, where will Nozal be next year, with no ONCE and no one to take it’s place, it looks like a lot of Spanish riders will be racing for foreign teams or unemployed!

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