VeloVeritas cycling sage, Vik hates those narrow bars Adam Hansen uses – they’re to make him more aero and save those precious watts – but they certainly didn’t do him any harm, today in Cangas de Morrazo.
Not just a win, he has saved Lotto’s Vuelta – so now it goes from ‘Ligthart and Hansen enlivening the breakaways’ to ‘stage winning’ – and that’s about a million miles.
By good fortune we had a chat with the man just before this Vuelta kicked off…
But first let’s see if we can read today’s pre-Worlds runic symbols from Galicia, home to some of the world’s best seafood – and Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
You can admire the plaques to celebrate El Caudillo‘s (Hard Man) birth in the town of Ferrol – last time we were there he was still sitting on his horse, twice life size, just inside the naval dockyard gates.
You don’t see many statues of Hitler and Mussolini, these days – but I digress.
Degenkolb continues to impress, he’s climbing so well, as is Matthews; little would surprise us about that talented young Australian – and with Gerrans demonstrating his form in Canada, the men from Down Under will be a real force, two weeks on Sunday.
And who was that man in pink and blue who crossed the line in third place ?
Pippo – back from the dead.
We’d love to see him ‘up there’ at Ponferrada – but he’ll have to make the Italian squadra, first.
Sky worked hard in the finale; harder than they really had to – but neither Contador nor Hansen were complaining.
And here’s what the genial former MTB man and Aussie TT champion had to say in Jerez, just before Lotto rolled down the start ramp:
Let’s get the free ad. in first, Adam – your famous shoes, they looked so much less ‘prototype’ at le Tour?
“They’re coming along real nice.
“One more step and they’ll be just right; but they need some more time.
“Maybe the final version will be ready for the Tour of Beijing?”
Tell us about the rest of the Hanseeno ‘goodies,’ please.
“Well, everything is on the website for now.
“Team hats have been going well, plus the shirts.
“I will be adding a new style of shirt soon.
“But overall it’s looking good.
“I’ve had positive feedback from customers and it’s nice to hear that, very satisfying.”
How much of a rest did you take post Tour?
“For seven days I did nothing.”
Do you have to worry about your weight right after a Grand Tour?
“No, I’m am really good with my diet.
“I had good weight in the Tour.
“This time last year I lost 4kg between the Tour and Vuelta.
“This year I didn’t want to do the same – more maintain my weight and lose those 4kgs starting the last week and be in good form for Beijing.
“That will be my final 2014 goal.”
Lotto must be pleased with how their Tour went with Gallopin and Greipel’s successes ?
“Yes, overall they’re happy.
“Only three teams wore yellow and we were one of them.
“And we took 10% of the stage wins also – which is great.”
What’s been your programme into the Vuelta?
“If you mean racing, nothing, just training.”
How many Vueltas and Grand Tours is this now?
“This is my sixth Vuelta and my 10th Grandy straight.
“Almost enough for a reason to retire…”
What are the team’s goals for the race?
“We have Maxime Monfort for GC and Jens Debusschere for the sprints.
“Jurgen Van Den Broeck to see how he is – either stage wins or GC ? [that’d be neither ! ed.]
“Pim Ligthart and I for breakaways and then rest for their own chances and helping.
“Its a really open Vuelta for us.”
Who will you be rooming with, what are there good and bad points?
“Good points: same interests, we get along well, like each other – and he doesn’t smell.
“Bad points: loves air con. I hate it – think I already have a sore throat from it.”
What’s the ‘Joker’ in Lotto?
“That’s a sub-company of the Lottery in Belgium.
“Almost the same but a different style of gambling.”
The Vuelta is much less ‘janitorial’ for journos than the Tour, is it the same for riders?
“Yes and no.
“It’s the most relaxed of the three Grand Tours; but on the same side, a lot of riders know this so they take more of their own chances – you get a lot of hungry young motivated riders.
“So sometimes it’s hard and very serious.”
TTT to kick off – is that a discipline you like?
“Yeah, I do. I love how the whole team gets involved and works together.
“Everyone’s nervous and not wanting to disappoint the team.
“In stage races or normal road races you can hide, but in a TTT there’s no hiding.”
Covadonga – tell us about it.
“A beautiful place, I was there on holidays once.
“A ‘must see’ – off the bike.”
No Madrid finish; TT in Compostella instead, a good or bad move?
“Its OK – change is good.
“But I do like the Madrid stage very much.”
Will you be doing the whole race just on gels?
“Yeah, I think so.
“However our team chef makes some pretty good lactose free muffins I might steal for the race.”
On the subject of nutrition – Lotto take their own chef?
“Yes and at the rate he is going, we’ll all put on weight.
“His food is so good… oh my…”
How do you spend your down time on a Grand Tour?
“On my laptop.
“I actually brought a book with me – made from paper.
“So I started that, going to be full on: ‘The Transformation of Consciousness’…”
Do you control the play list on the bus stereo ? give us a few examples.
“No, that’s Greg. He was playing Spice Girls, bit of Aqua (‘I’m a Barbie Girl’) and Britney…
“He loves Britney…
“We’re a bit over it.”
And what happens after the Vuelta?
“The TTT, Worlds (I hope) and Tour of Beijing.”
But before The Worlds and Beijing there’s the matter of Stage 20 to the top of the HC Puerto de Ancares by way of a third, a second and two first cat. climbs.
The final beast is 12.7 K long rising to 1.655 metres above sea level, elevating some 1.115 metres from base to summit with an average grade of 8.7% and a maximum grade of 18% – it’s not the ‘Queen Stage’ but coming as it does on the second last day it’s going to be savage.
Froome will attack, Contador will defend – it may just all come down to that final time trial – but we think that Alberto is up to the challenge and won’t be far off Christopher’s back wheel at the top – or may even get there first.
There’s only one place to be on Saturday afternoon – your sofa.
You’ll never hear us say a wrong word against a cool bottle of San Miguel – but Cruzcampo should not be over looked…
Ve con Dios.