A heavy rainstorm ensured that Adriano Malori‘s time held throughout the 9.7km time trial ‘epilogue’ for the Movistarlet to take the final stage of the 2014 Vuelta. The top three rode cautiously, giving us an unchanged final podium of Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Alejandro Valverde.
There is little to say about this super-short time trial. Even in the dry, it is doubtful it would have changed the final top five classification. Malori’s victory did mean that Movistar topped and tailed the time trials in this year’s race. Trek’s Jesse Sergent was eight seconds off the winning time and BMC’s Rohan Dennis was a second further back in third. Dennis even took a spill just after the finish line, as by that time it had starting pouring with rain.
One spicy Vuelta
Once again, we were treated to some of the best racing of the season in this year’s Vuelta – much like last year’s grand battle between Chris Horner and Vincenzo Nibali. We saw some popular wins – Adam Hansen‘s solo victory, for example – and some hard, tactical riding throughout the three weeks. And we got the showdown between Contador and Froome that we had wanted all year.
On that subject, over the past two weeks or so, I kept seeing people saying, “This is what it should have happened in the Tour” and “What could have been …?” Even before the Vuelta was over, I was seeing tweets to the effect of “Can’t wait for July 2015!” It was like they were wishing the Vuelta away.
If this year’s Tour de France had been a snoozefest, I might have understood the thinking behind that attitude a bit better, but it wasn’t. Yes, Vincenzo Nibali had more or less sewn up the GC after the opening week but he animated the race from start to finish. And the battles for the other two podium places – and in fact for much of the GC – were fought for aggressively and with great pride – and it came down to the final time trial. Would we have been treated to three outstanding French performances if there had been a Contador/Froome showdown? I doubt it. We did get a magnificent Tour de France almost because of the loss of those two.
At the end of the day, we did get the showdown we wanted. It just happened to take place on an inventive and difficult parcours around Spain. But it was no less exciting, no less mesmerising, no less astounding than if it had been fought across France. In sport, you often can’t pick when your biggest battles are going to be fought. For Contador and Froome, the time was picked for them. And they rose to the challenge and gave us a great Vuelta.
Velovoices rider of the day
That would have to be Adriano Malori. He’d set an excellent time and, although we’ll never know what the rest of the riders could have done with a dry course, that shouldn’t take away from his win. The 2014 Italian time trial champion, he actually beat both Tony Martin and Bradley Wiggins in Tirreno-Adriatico’s TT, so expect him to take the fight to them in the World Championships.
Stage 21 result
1. Adriano Malori (Movistar) 11:12
2. Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) +0:08
3. Rohan Dennis (BMC) +0:09
4. Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) +0:17
5. Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) +0:18
Final general classification
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 81:25:05
2. Chris Froome (Sky) +1:10
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1:50
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +3:25
5. Fabio Aru (Astana) +4:48
6. Samuel Sanchez (BMC) +9:30
7. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) +10:38
8. Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) +11:50
9. Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) +12:50
10. Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) +13:02
Points winner: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
King of the Mountains winner: Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural).
Combined classification winner: Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification winner: Katusha.
Links: Official website, cyclingnews.com
I think this Vuelta shows exactly that we have no idea of what would have happened in the Tour, had Froome and Contador not crashed out. Contador was not able to drop Valverde and Purito – when he tried they all got dropped by Froome. Froome on the other hand could drop the two, but when he did he got dropped by Contador. The Tour would have been ridden differently with Saxo and Sky fighting for victory. Maybe Nibali would have won, but maybe not… Great Vuelta and yes, I am looking forward to the Tour 2015 hoping we will see them all in fighting form!