Monday, May 20, 2024

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 14; Santander – La Camperona, 199 km. Ryder Hesjedal Stays Clear


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Ryder Hesjedal

There used to be a Scottish football player called Frank McGarvey, he played for Celtic, St. Mirren, Queen of the South and Clyde.

The worst job an opposing manager could give one of his players was to ‘mark’ Frank – stay close to him and anticipate his next move.

As a man once entrusted with this task told me; ‘how could you tell what Frank was going to do next when he didn’t know himself?

It must be a bit like that when you ride against Chris Froome; ‘well, that’s Froome popped – Jeez! he’s back! – who’s that attacking? – it’s not Froome, is it?

He’ll never win any of those ‘Prix d’Elegance’ awards with those elbows but it makes for entertaining tele and he gets the job done.

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Froome getting it done, to the surprise of pretty much everyone. Photo©Unipublic

A good day for Christopher – when we used to chat to him back in his Barloworld days with Geraint Thomas we could never anticipated just how far he’d go.

And a good day too for big Ryder Hesjedal – it looked for all the world like Zaugg was going to double his career wins – TTT’s apart he has but one win to show for 13 pro seasons, albeit that was the Tour of Lombardy – but the big Garmin man who lives in Hawaii gauged his effort much better and despite all of that sitting in, Old Oli had to settle for second.

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Hesjedal sprints past Zaug in the last metres of the stage. Photo©Unipublic

But maybe it’s as Vik says; ‘the race organisers should stop falling over themselves trying to find ever more ridiculous hills!’

And my amigo from Texas, Andre had this to say about Stage 14;

“Hola, Ed – I just watched the last half hour of the Vuelta, and instead of being thrilled, I’m rather disgusted.

“Disgusted at the ignorant stupid fans who think running alongside riders is cool while endangering the competitors. Especially when the roads are not much more than goat trails.

“Disgusted at the Organizers for additional spectacle, adding a 3Km climb with a top gradient of 19% after close to five hours in the saddle.

“And the main commentator on Eurosport was so excited about it he must have pee-ed on himself.”

He’s right about the fans although the Spanish police are trying hard to keep it under control.

And as for commentary, let’s just be grateful that Greg is back home in the USA…

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Sky did a job keeping Froome to the fore for the final climb. Photo©Unipublic
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Rodriguez, Aru and Contador keep tabs on each other. Photo©Unipublic

The bottom line is that not all of us think that more/tougher mountains make for a better bike race.

To quote Vik again; ‘one of the best stages of the race was the one Bouhanni won where the echelons formed in the cross winds – and not a hill in sight…’

But all of that said, it’s hard to deny that this is a cracking Vuelta.

Good days for Chris, Ryder and Joaquin Rodriguez, too who stayed with Froome and put a little time into Contador – but who were the losers?

Contador actually increased his leading margin but must have unease about the way Froome is riding; Valverde lost time and despite putting a brave face on it’s never good to concede seconds and the same applies to Uran and Sanchez who both dropped a minute or more on ‘Bert.’

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Valverde perhaps delivered his attack too early. Photo©Unipublic

Sanchez in particular looked in a bad way at the line and the thought of Covadonga on Sunday can hardly fill him with joy.

Covadonga, a special, mystical place, we were there in 2010 and you can read about our recce here, and the stage the next day here.

And if you want to read about the last time the Vuelta visited Covadonga, that’s here.

I’m depressed now – wish we were there.

Ve con Dios.

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Bert stays in Red for the trip to los Lagos. Photo©Unipublic