Yo, Tony R, in da House! But we’ll get to that shortly.
Wisdom and experience won today. The surprise was that the wisdom came from the youngest rider in the day-long breakaway, 22 year old Frenchman Anothony Roux of Francaise des Jeux.
With the peloton rapidly cutting the time gap, it was Roux keeping the escapados working together. He organized, cajoled, waving his hands, urging them on. As the British TV commentator noted, “they can’t afford to muck about.” Roux tried to keep them from attacking each other, knowing their best chance for success was high speed unity.
It was the kind of smart, tactical riding you’d expect from a veteran with many races and a few big wins to his credit. Two years ago Roux was a lowly trainee on the French squad. He’s come a long way. His wiki page is already updated: 1st, stage 17, Vuelta a Espana. “Chapeau,” as the French say — hats off.
The maturity Roux showed on the road to Talavera de la Reina, reminded Twisted Spoke of Gang Starr, the east coast rap duo. “I’m the veter-ran, runnin’ my plan, I’m the better man,” said MC Guru and DJ Premier. A shout out to the old guys still bringing the noize. Roux was the wise man in the break.
That’s how the stage went down, bruthas. For the historical record, Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Markel Irizar (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Francisco José Martínez (Andalucía-Cajasur) and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Slipstream) were the breakaway boys. Maaskant launched several attacks in the final kilometers but to no avail. That’s when Roux made his decisive attack, saying “I saw the opportunity to get across to Maaskant. I rested behind him for a moment and then, with 500m to go, I gave it everything I could. I am very happy.”
Okay, we’ll assume the matter-of-fact blandness of Roux’s statement is due to exhaustion and a bad translation. What he meant to say is what Gang Starr said so eloquently in the lyrics to Full Clip: “So that’s all for you, I’m wiping out your whole team. I’ll splatter your dreams with lyrics and shatter your schemes.”
Postscript: Yes, Roux is da man. No champagne snafus for him on the podium. Cork off, a vigorous shake and geysers everywhere, soaking the hair and black mini-skirt of one podium girl. The sure sign of a 22 year old experienced professional.