There is an overused word to describe the feelings riders and fans have towards the Vuelta.
People often write or speak of the specific relaxed, end of term vibes of the Vuelta. It’s a unique ambience they say.
It certainly works for me.
I spend many a happy hour watching the Vuelta imagining life as a hardened pro cyclist getting to the end of their season and riding round the humid, windy interior of Spain to get a nice tan to take into the winter.
The first week of this year’s race has certainly done nothing to diffuse that stereotype.
There were a couple of flat stages where the organisers prayed for high winds to get the echelons forming. But there was barely a breeze and the riders enjoyed the sun and several sprint finishes.
Where there have been climbs there has been excitement. But Primoz Roglic is in control with rivals such as Egan Bernal clearly going backwards.
Hugh Carthy is sadly at home in Preston by now after abandoning.
Alessandro Valverde suffered a terrible crash before being forced to quit the race. It will be interesting to see how the race develops with his bickering team mates Enric Mas and “Superman” Lopez battling to lead Movistar in his absence.
Sadly, it appears there is no series 3 on their fly on the wall documentary on Netflix. The episode featuring this week’s racing would be a must see.
If this was the Tour de France and if it was Tadej Pogacar in the lead of the race, I would be declaring this one over in terms of a GC battle.
But Roglic has previous (see 2020 Tour, 2021 Paris-Nice) of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.
He might be going for a hat-trick of Vuelta wins but in both 2019 and 2020 he was close to losing the race in the closing days. Once through a needless crash when Movistar pushed on and once on the final summit finish when Richard Carapaz went after him.
For those of an English and Ineo bias, the race seems to be slipping away.
Carapaz is fading after his Olympic road race glory and with Bernal losing time on the last summit finish before yesterday’s rest day it might be that Adam Yates gets the responsibility of leading the team now.
However, he is over two minutes behind Roglic and that seems very unlikely a gap that he will cross. Even with two weeks of racing left.
So, let’s enjoy this weeks stages, some sleepy looking towns and wave lashed beaches with the riders swooping past. All mirrored Oakley’s and sun cream as they get through the final grand tour of the 2021 season.
|1||1||–||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||20||34:18:53|
|2||3||▲1||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||0:28|
|3||4||▲1||LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel||Movistar Team||1:21|
|4||7||▲3||HAIG Jack||Bahrain – Victorious||1:42|
|5||6||▲1||BERNAL Egan||INEOS Grenadiers||1:52|
|6||10||▲4||YATES Adam||INEOS Grenadiers||2:07|
|7||11||▲4||CICCONE Giulio||Trek – Segafredo||2:39|
|8||8||–||KUSS Sepp||Team Jumbo-Visma||2:40|
|9||2||▼7||GROßSCHARTNER Felix||BORA – hansgrohe||3:25|
|10||14||▲4||DE LA CRUZ David||UAE-Team Emirates||3:55|