New Pistolero in town. Contador misfires.

Esteban, all smiles

Esteban, all smiles

That’s the way life and sport goes, out with the old, in with the new, the torch is passed, one door closes and another opens.

As we look at the final GC results from the 2013 Vuelta a Espana, we can also say El Pistolero is dead, long live El Pistolero. In other words, kid Esteban Chavez of Orica-BikeExchange is the new gun in town.

The Colombian knocked Contador off the final podium with a bold and aggressive long range attack that basically stole a page out of the Spaniards’s book.

Laying in 4th place with one final mountain stage left before Madrid, Esteban attacked with 50 kilometers to go, leaving Contador behind and though the original Pistolero tried his best the new Pistolero would not be caught. Esteban took the final step on the podium by just 13 seconds, dooming Contador to another disappointing grand tour after his crashes and abandon in the Tour de France.

While Contador was bitter about receiving no help closing the gap from Movistar — after he’d kickstarted Quintana’s winning move in state 14 — he also admitted he’d missed the move. Which seemed odd for such a competitive and instinctual rider — he wished he’d gone with Chavez but instead played it conservatively and spent the afternoon begging Alejandro Valverde to have Movistar do some work. How un Pistolero-like.

Meanwhile Esteban and his team concocted a strategy to get him onto that final step in Madrid and executed said Kill Contador strategy to perfection. Chavez has a big, infectious smile and he was certainly flashing it after his brilliant move.

So it’s one to 2017 for Contador, rumored to be riding for Trek-Segafredo. There will be the inevitable break-in period and we question how much he will be able to accomplish next year. His run of misfortune and crashes makes us think the Cycling Gods have spoken — he should have retired.

On the other hand, there’s nothing but optimism at Orica-BikeExchange after Chavez took second in this year’s Giro d’Italia and third in the Vuelta a Espana. And while Chavez doesn’t have the flash and style of Contador, maybe there’s a new Pistolero in town.

 

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