Thursday, April 18, 2024

Rest Day 2 Review – La Vuelta 2019


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Here’s our Rest Day 2 Review of La Vuelta ’19. Our first review is here.

Stage Ten

That’s the thing about time testing, you either can or you can’t do it; it’s down to how the Good Lord put you together, physically and mentally.

Therefore, no surprises with a Roglič win and ‘roja’ grabbing performance over a 20 mile parcours between Jurançon and lovely Pau; and whilst one can compliment Bevin on coming to second to one of the best clock bashers in the world, bear in mind that Roglič has had to cover every move by his rivals for the previous nine days whilst Paddy is at 57 minutes and has been trying to save his legs over the days before the time trial.

Rest Day 2 Review
Primož Roglič. Photo©Luis Angel Gomez

A great day for Roglič and for Bevin – not forgetting James Knox taking 15th spot on the same time as Lopez – who’s a tad less ‘sooperr’ in jousts with Father Time than he is against Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery.

Rest Day 2 Review
Paddy Bevin. Photo©Ed Hood

The Colombian climber ceded exactly two minutes to the quiet Slovenian with the other Colombian climbing ‘Big,’ Quintana faring even worse with three minutes gone with the wind.

As they say in the ‘Batman’ comics, ‘Ouch!!

Lopez will come back but it’s hard to see Quintana doing the same, there’s a tough Tour de France still in those legs of his.

* * *

Stage Eleven

Unless we go back to the days when the soigneurs panicked if they saw you near the bus fridge then you can’t have ‘death racing’ every day.

‘The Bigs’ had a post-chrono day off and left it to the minnows on a day which shouted, ‘breakaway’ as soon as one glanced at the profile.

Rest Day 2 Review
Mikel Iturria Segurola. Photo©Sarah Meyssonnier

It’s always nice when the ‘little guy’ wins and better still if he’s a ‘home boy’ – with those letter X’s in the stage finish town name, Saint-Palais to Urdax-Dantxarinea, it could only be the ‘Basque Land.’

Winner, Mikel Iturria from Urnieta [in the Basque Country, naturally] rides for Euskadi Basque Country – Murias – the sponsor being a Basque Construction company.

But they pull out after this season – however there’s talk of a new sponsor.

It would be sad to see the team go after so many years and incarnations of a Basque team – especially if you ever stood roadside in the Pyrenees among the orange-clad Euskaltel legions or watched Roberto Laiseka turn himself inside out to grab Tour de France stage glory.

Runner-up ‘man of the match,’ behind Iturria?

That could only be Tony Martin, he’s worth at least two ‘normal’ domestiques to Roglic.

Rest Day 2 Review
Tony Martin. Photo©Ed Hood

* * *

Stage Twelve

The 10 fingers Phil Gil displayed when he won this stage?

His tenth Grand Tour stage; and that’s along with four Monuments – only the Primavera remains on his ‘to do’ list.

He’s been Belgian elite road race and time trial champion and of course, elite world champion

Then there’s Het Nieuwsblad, Fleche Wallone, Strada Bianche, San Sebastian and Paris-Tours.

One of the finest riders of his generation.

Rest Day 2 Review
Philippe Gilbert. Photo©Sarah Meyssonnier

He’s smart too, spending the first six years of his career with F des J away from the remorseless spotlight glare of the Belgian Media – always anxious to ‘big up’ the next Eddy Merckx or Tom Boonen before the inevitable dismantling job.

And when his career waned with BMC he realised a change was necessary, joining QuickStep on a much reduced salary but with win bonuses – he was rejuvenated.

The next three seasons will see him back in the colours of Lotto for whom he rode three seasons before his BMC days.

As Deceuninck fan I’ll miss him in the blue and white colours.

Will he still win big with Belgium’s ‘other’ team?

His class is undoubted but Lotto ain’t Deceuninck…

Meanwhile, quiet man Roglič remains in red.

Rest Day 2 Review
Primož Roglič. Photo©Ed Hood

Tomorrow in a word?


* * *

Stage Thirteen

The UAE press release says; ‘A pure class performance from Pogacar earns second stage win at La Vuelta.


Rest Day 2 Review
Tadej Pogacar. Photo©Sarah Meyssonnier

His results up to the late summer of last season were solid but not spectacular, and then:

  • 1e GP Priessnitz Spa [Nations Cup]
  • 4e Tour of Slovenia [1e: Roglic, 2e: Uran, 3e: Mohoric]
  • 1e Tour de l’Avenir [the ‘u23 Tour de France’]
  • 1e Giro Friuli
  • top 10 u23 Worlds

And this year he’s won:

  • Tour of the Algarve
  • Tour of California
  • Slovenian National Championship

and you already know about the Vuelta…

A podium finish looks well possible at the moment but that last week is savage for a mature professional, never mind a 20 year-old…

Can Roglic carry red all the way to Madrid?

There’s still a long way to go but right now he’s the strongest with neither Lopez nor Quintana able to match him.

And Quintana’s Tour will eventually catch him up.

Rest Day 2 Review
Alejandro Valverde. Photo©Ed Hood

Valverde will be more than happy with a podium and won’t risk that.

But bike racing is full of surprises.

* * *

Stage Fourteen

A day which wasn’t perhaps exactly relaxed but when conversation was possible in the peloton, just what a weary coureur needs – then came the finale.

And with an easier day than usual there are more riders than usual ‘up for it’ – especially those that think they can get up that finish ramp a bit quickly.

Net result: chaos as a large percentage of the peloton ends up on the deck with Mitchelton Scott’s big sprinter, Luka Mezgec carted off to hospital.

Rest Day 2 Review
Sam Bennett. Photo©Sarah Meyssonnier

Bennett reinforced that he’s the strongest man here inside that red kite as he took he second stage of the race; even as a Deceuninck fan I have to admit that he was quicker than Jakobsen when the young Dutchman took Stage Four, albeit the men in blue timed their run best, with Richeze as excellent as ever.

The Irishman’s value continues to rise…

Rest Day 2 Review
Maximiliano Ariel Richeze. Photo©Ed Hood


Have you ever seen a ‘santuario’ – sanctuary – anywhere other than atop a mountain?

Me neither – and the finish climb to the holy place is the last of four cat. one climbs on the 154 kilometre agenda. 

It’s gonna be a hard day at the office…

* * *

Stage Fifteen

Four cat. 1 climbs; the first one is madness ‘til the break goes then the next two are a procession because even ‘The Bigs’ know that the race is the last climb…