Ten seconds. Is that worth a quick glass of champagne for Vincenzo Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida boys after stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana?
This ten seconds can be symbolic and powerful or pretty much worthless, depending on your water bottle half empty or half full orientation. Does that ten seconds show that Nibali, a four time grand tour winner, is getting stronger and stronger as the race goes on?
Does that meaty ten seconds portend more good times to come? Is he also building confidence after isolating Froome from his teammates on the La Pandera, the first hors categorie climb of this year’s Vuelta? Is the Italian now ready to claim he’s the strongest climber in the race with a monster mountain stage on Sunday?
Do those ten seconds suggest that Nibali will take more time tomorrow in the mountains as Froome begins to fade. And then on Tuesday will a resurgent Nibali ride an inspired time trail and limit his gap to the Briton before stealing the red jersey right before Madrid?
Plenty of questions but over at the Team Sky bus, they’re probably thinking, uhh, ten seconds, seriously? That ain’t jack.
Now Team Sky would never say “that ain’t jack.” Not proper English, not the right sense of decorum. However, they think ten seconds is exactly that and nothing more. A few small morsels for Nibali when the time gap is still 55 seconds with that nice, can’t-wait-to-dominate time trial around the corner.
Froome and Sky could just as easily be enjoying that glass of champagne tonight. They watched Nibali turn himself inside out for that — ten seconds? Really, seriously, you went into the red for ten measly seconds?
There seems to be no question that Froome is still in the driver’s seat with the strongest team, the best food, the coolest bus, the fluffiest pillows and on and on. Ten seconds is a joke to them.
Froome admitted that he decided to ride on the conservative side today. He preferred not to go into the red and save some juice for the harder climbs on Sunday. If that is really the case, then Nibali won’t be gaining another ten seconds again for the rest of the Vuelta.
Ten seconds might get you onto the second step of the podium in Madrid but certainly not the first step.