It’s Stage 7, and the Vuelta Espana strikes out for the interior.
From Lliria to Cuenca, from the coast, to Spain’s inner plateau. The longest stage of the race. It’s hot, and panoramic, and it’s the reason why the skin of the average Spanish pro-cyclist is the colour of mahogany.
In beautiful, historic Cuenca, the average high temperature in July and August is in the thirties. The AVERAGE. As a northern European I can tell you now that if I, on a whim, decided to up-sticks and move to Cuenca, with that climate, I would get nothing done.
No cycling. No working. I wouldn’t take the bins out. I wouldn’t wash the car. I would stagger from siesta to siesta with barely enough energy to talk to my own family. I would have to convert my kitchen into a giant walk-in fridge just to summon the enthusiasm to continue feeding myself.
And I’m someone who likes the heat.
But once it climbs up into the thirties, day after day, I’m done.
I certainly wouldn’t be entering myself* in a Grand Tour and choosing a two hundred and seven kilometre schlepp into the Spanish interior to get in the day’s breakaway. But that’s what a gaggle of the bravest and most heat-resistant of all the pro-cyclists did today.
Fourteen of them**, to be precise, with the peloton tracking them from a safe distance. Which became a long distance. And eventually a winning distance.
The terrain was by no means flat, but by the Vuelta’s standards it was at least humane. Froome, Contador, Chaves, and the rest, let them get on with it.
Which is exactly what twenty-two year old next-big-thing Matej Mohoric did. As the break fragmented in the final twenty kilometres he made his move at the top of the final climb, and time-trialled smoothly off into the distance.
Simple. Impressive. And with the minimum of fuss.
From his stats, you will see that he has 1011 activities logged – one run, and 1010 bike rides.
Allow me to flesh out the back story for you.
Some years ago he joined Strava, and went for a run. He realised immediately that running is a bit dull, and the clothes look silly, and bought himself a bike. He then went for 1009 bike rides.
On his 1010th bike ride, he won his first Grand Tour stage at the Vuelta Espana.
Using his patented method, a quick check of my Strava stats confirms that with a further 442 more bike rides, I too might find myself in a position to win my first Grand Tour stage.
Which is exciting.
As for Mohoric, that surname might seem damn near unpronounceable now, but I think we might be hearing more of it in future.
*’Cos that’s how it works, right? You fill in a form and enter yourself? Names out of a hat?
** Yes, before you ask…Thomas de Gendt was one of them.
(Hot Image: via pixabay.com)