Tuesday and another wild ride in the Helta Skelta Vuelta, the loco grand tour You Just Can’t Control. The time trail from Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela to Borja reshaped the race and wiped out a big star.
Today’s surprise was brought to you by ex-race leader Nairo Quintana who began the 36.7km time trial in the red leaders jersey and finished battered and bruised after crashing at high speed on a fast corner and going over the handlebars. He flipped off the bike, flying thru the air like a plastic doll and slammed onto the pavement. A miracle he’s till in one piece — Froome would have busted every bone in his body.
That is way down on the recommend checklist for winning the Vuelta. I’m screwed,” said Quintana, summing up the crash and the larger impact. “What happened was I over-braked, it wasn’t enough, and I hit the ground. Fortunately I wasn’t too badly hurt, my left knee came off the worst, and I’ve got bruises all over, but cycling is like that.”
Quintana managed to finished the race against the clock but his race for the overall victory is dead. He lost over three minutes and now turns the Movistar captain role back to Alejandro Valverde. The Green Bullet is now second on GC after a decent TT performance.
Crazier than Quintana going over the bars and seeing his whole race below up? How about watching Alberto Contador, the man who broke his tibia half way thru the Tour de France, take the Vuelta lead by 59 second over Valverde after surprising everyone in Spain yet again with fourth place in the TT.
Still looking for more loco in the Helta Skelta Veulta? Supposed time trial ace Chris Froome of Sky clocked a time 24 seconds slower than his teammate Vasil Kiryienka. (Paging Sir Bradley Wiggins, please report to the start house of Vuetla TT.) Froome now finds himself trailing Contador in the overall by 1:18.
The Vuelta is nothing if not unpredictable and El Pistolero knows that. “I hoped that at best I could equal him,” Contador said. “I never thought I could beat him.”
Froome’s underwhelming performance also strengthens the argument that Vincenzo Nibali would have beaten him in the Tour de France even if Froome hadn’t crashed out on stage five. While team manager David Brailsford has said Froome is motivated and on-form and even “enjoying” his racing these days, there won’t be any laughs around the dinner table tonight.
Final crazy note from Vuelta. One Colombian down and out, one Colombian up and rising. While Quintana dropped all the way to 11th on GC, an impressive TT by countrymen Rigoberto Uran Uran (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) pulled him up to 3rd on GC. Uran flew over the technical course in a time of 47:17, just 16 seconds off the winning time of Tony Martin. Maybe the Vuetla will be Uran’s revenge for Quintana stealing his Giro d’Italia.