Boxing, Vuelta style.
We call the Vuetla a Espana, the Helta Skelta Vuelta, an amusing reference to the song Helta Skelta by the Beatles but mostly because it’s the loco grand tour, the one that’s always a little beyond everyone’s control.
Is it the August heat, the extra climbing, the “revenge” quality of the last grand tour, the hot blooded Spanish character, the sangria in the water bottles?
Hard to say but Sky’s mild-mannered Philip Deignan knows exactly what Twisted Spoke is talking about when he said yesterday that “this Vuelta seems to have gone mad altogether.”
He was speaking from painful, personal experience. Katusha’s climbing ace Joaquin Rodriguez punched Deignan in the face, splitting his lip after the Sky rider attempted to hold his position while descending at 50kph off a mountain during stage 16.
That was just the undercard in the Vuelta boxing match.
Gianluca Brambilla of Omega Pharma Quickstep and Ivan Rovny of Tinkoff Saxo were both thrown out of the race after repeating hitting each other while in the stage 16 break together. They brought new meaning to the cycling definition of break — Brambilla even broke Rovny’s sunglasses.
The race commissars caught all the action between Brambilla and Rovny and tossed them a feel kilometers later. But nobody caught the Rodriguez shot to the face on camera so the hot-headed little Spaniard avoided the same penalty. Imagine — you’re in 4th overall, killing yourself to get onto the podium in the Vuelta and you risk being thrown out because some guy from Sky wants to move to the front to ride for his team leader.
For Rodriguez to take that kind of risk is beyond stupid. It’s too bad really that Deignan had enough composure and class not to smack Rodriguez back at the hotel. Apparently the Irishman has had a few years of boxing lessons at the Letterkenny Boxing Club.
That would have been a fun headline to write — “Deignan knocks out Rodriguez in hotel lobby. Sky falls on Spaniard.” After all the disagreements between Rodriguez and Valverde, we’re now wondering why he never punch the Movistar captain.
It’s been a thrilling Helta Skelta Vuetla so far and we have a week to go or put another way, about 6 rounds of boxing left. Will be see An agitated Chris Froome take a swing at Valverde? Will Robert Gesink, already on edge with some un-named personal problem, suddenly drill Fabio Aru of Astana for some transgression? Will Pistolero Alberto Contador take offense at Chris Froome trying to kick his tibia and slug him in the jaw?
Stay tuned. It’s the Vuelta a Espana. ANything can and will happen, amigos.