“Oh great…the time trial,” said around 13% of pro-cycling fans in advance of Stage 16 at La Vuelta – they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
I, on the other hand, like a time-trial. Largely because I like anything that requires me to plonk my arse down on the settee a watch bike racing.
I did have my doubts about this time trial though.
The Holy Grail for the Grand Tour organiser is to have a time trial, of the perfect distance and placement, to offset the advantage gained by the pure climbers. The race concluding crescendo then keeps the fans watching excitedly, and the sponsors firmly in the hospitality area quaffing hospitality and chatting to Miguel Indurain.
The problem here, though, is that Chris Froome offsets the ‘advantage’ of the pure climbers by climbing mountains, and then offsets it again in the time trial.
He does it imperiously, and with stunning control, but it does leave the TT lacking tension somewhat; he won Stage 16 with time to spare.
Even the podium presentation becomes a procession, as Froome is handed a bunch of flowers and a trinket for each of the three jerseys he’s in possession of – green, white, and red, for overall race leader.
If he were he forced to wear all three, one on top of the other, in the no doubt sweltering heat of the final few stages, it’s still hard to see him not winning from here.
As we know, sometimes ‘stuff happens’, but if he stays upright he surely wins.
The lack of tension was something of a let-down after the opening salvo of the ITV highlights show, where Gary Imlach – he of the parchment dry presentation – informed the watching world that both team BMC and AG2R La Mondiale had ‘lost’ two riders on the rest day.
“What’s this development?” I wondered, “did they take a wrong turn and become disorientated by the Spanish countryside?”
“Have they been seduced by a gang of British holiday makers with a pedalo and a selection of inflatable animals?”
“Has anyone thought to check down the back of the settee in the hotel reception?”
Oh…wait a minute…figure of speech.
Not lost, but lost. Lost to the team. Lost to the race. Kicked out, abandoned, injured.
They’ve lost them.
Proof, if it were needed, that when you take the tension out of a TT, the mind can wander.
(Top Image: by Sean MacEntee via Flickr CC)