Useful bike racing advice for winning grand tour stage: don’t go too early or too late.
Of course, after racing all day under a hot Spanish sun on constantly undulating roads with all the stresses of trying to stay safe and up front, the mental calculations and instincts can prove faulty. Also, guys just get desperate and do crazy things — It’s the Vuelta a Espana, after all.
We got a vivid display of too early and too late and absolutely dead-on perfect in today’s stage 7 from … AT ten kilometers from the line, Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural) went too early. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) also went too early by about five kilometers.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar went too late, just missing out on a juicy victory and some cold bubbly. Too late, too early, roll the dice and love with the results — or lack thereof.
The magic moment was not ten kilometers or five or one or 500 meters. The correct timing was three kilometers when Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked, bridged and blew by Herrada and easily held off Sagan and Valverde.
I found a good moment – and I’m so happy,” said Gallopin. “We knew the final was hectic a little bit, so we had a plan that first we try to go in a breakaway, then at the end, the team put me in a really good position and I fight with the best. Then when we came on the last straight road, I had a plan that if I have a possibility I try to attack.”
Gallopin has been beset by bad luck, crashes and silliness this season. However, there’s nothing like a grand tour stage win to elevate the spirits. On yet another messy, chaotic and unpredictable day in the Helta Skelta Vuelta, the Frenchman made the right move at the exact right time.
“It’s a dream for the riders to win in a big tour. After this year, with so much bad luck, so many times I crashed and I was sick, so after I stopped in the Tour, we had the plan that I go to the Vuelta,” said Gallopin. “And now I won, so I think the plan was good.”
Good plan, indeed.