Vuelta. Froome pushes Vuelta to top of grand tours

 

Froome to Vuelta.

Froome to Vuelta.

 

Javier Guillén is a pig rolling in shit. He’s won the grand tour 10 million Euro Superball game. A genie popped out of a lantern or empty bottle of Sangria and gave him all his Vuelta a Espana wishes.

With the recent announcement that Tour de France maillot jaune master Chris Froome will ride the Spanish grand tour, Guillén has everybody from the Tour de France at his party except the exhausted Alberto Contador.

“If you had told me before the start of the year, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s the icing on the cake,” Guillén told Spanish newspaper AS. “It’s good that so many important riders have thought to make more of a big year. Froome’s decision is fantastic for the Vuelta and for cycling.”

In fact, the Vuelta may well prove to a far more dramatic race than the Tour — where Froome essentially won Le Grand Shindig on the very first mountain stage up in the Pyrenees.

Why better than Le Tour? The Vuelta is always the last chance saloon for those who messed up their Giro and Tour shots. This Vuelta is positively loaded with top riders with revenge on their mind and a fresh beating from Froome to motivate them to greater things.

First, Vincenzo Nibali will have licked his wounds and heads to Spain with a far more powerful Astana squad in Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa. It’s the three-headed monster from Kazahkstan.

The Shark will try to take advantage and attack starting on the stage two mountain stage. The Astana squad will be firing all three riders off the front like rabid dogs. Aru and Landa were both on the podium in the Giro and Nibali was a disappointing 5th in the Tour. Like the title to the Daniel Day Lewis movie where is he a crazed man — “There will be Blood.” Astana will have every intention of blowing up Team Sky sooner rather than later.

Then there is the dynamic Movistar duo of Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, the one-two punch that pushed Froome hard on Alpe d’Huez but couldn’t quite crack him enough to steal the Tour.

There was plenty of second guessing about Movistar’s Tour tactics — specifically why they waited until the Alps to attack Froome. Perhaps they will switch up the script in Spain and like Astana, hit Froome early and hard.

It’s the scenario that Russian tycoon Oleg Tinkof had dreamed of when he wanted all the top GC kings to ride all three grand tours. It’s an even better battle now that everybody has the same level of fatigue from the Tour.

But like the Contador of old, Froome has proven to be just as mentally tough. It will take more than tired legs, a urine shower and roadside spit to prevent him from taking the Vuelta, too.

Then there is the true hard luck case of the 2015 Tour de France, BMC’s Tejay van Gardener. Coming into the second rest day, the American was in second on GC, more confident than he’s ever been and on track for a podium place.

Then sickness, disaster, exit in tears in team car. He said he just wanted to “disappear” after such a soul-crushing abandonment but now he’s all in for the Spanish grand tour. There’s no pressure on him according to team management but Tejay had worked to hard to get that level of form and he doesn’t want to waste it.

Throw in a wild card like Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and the usual Spanish surprises and you have a grand tour that is wide open and guaranteed from fireworks. Hey maybe even recent Tour of Utah winner Joe Dombrowski goes crazy in his first grand tour and drops everyone on the first mountain.

It’s what we call the Helta Skelta Vuelta. You can’t control it — you just watch the piñata explode and sees who scrambles for the sugar goodies.

Guillén described this Vuelta as having “several spicy days.” Yes, muy caliente, amigo. This thing is going to rock from day one.

 

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