Today’s 40.2km ITT from the Navarran race circuit to Logrono is where many speculated that Chris Froome would effectively wrap up his first overall victory in the Vuelta. It’s hard to argue otherwise as he took his second stage win to extend his GC lead by 29 secs on runner-up Wilco Kelderman (third overall) and almost a minute on Vincenzo Nibali, still second overall 1:58 back. Of course, there’s still four tough stages to negotiate but as Froome is about to spend his 15th day in red, emulating luminaries such as Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Pedro Delgado, you wouldn’t bet against him.
Rider of the Race
I concur with my comrade in arms that there’s plenty of candidates for glory today after an edge-of-the-seat chrono which (sadly) unseated a few contenders. It would be easy to pick Baby Blackbird, riding in his last ever time-trial – pass me the paper hankies – who finished fifth and is now up to fifth on GC. Or what about FDJ’s Swedish national time-trial champion Tobias Ludvigsson who left it all out on the road and spent a significant amount of time in the hot seat before being unseated by Alberto Contador? Is it me or does he have really large feet? All the better to pedal with, I suppose.
I could’ve gone for Wilco Kelderman who turned in a magnificent performance as runner-up to consolidate his third place overall. Instead, I’m picking his team-mate fresh-faced Lennard Kaemna who’s the youngest rider in the Vuelta by about a year and, after occupying the hot seat early on, finished 8th. The young German is no stranger to glory.
In 2014, he became Junior National, European and World Time-Trial Champion. He followed this up in 2015 with a bronze medal in the Under-23 World Time-Trial Championships in Richmond. Then, last year, he won the Under-23 European Time-Trial Championships in Plumelec. You could say that, as a neo-pro in his debut grand tour, he’s merely confirming his early promise. As riders such as Alberto hang up their cleats, it’s good to know the future of cycling’s in such good hands #youngdudes.
Today’s stage started in Navarre where local hero, five-time Tour winner (1991-5) Miguel Indurain, and one of Spain’s favourite son’s, greet another one!
Top 5 stage
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 47:00:00
2 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +0:29
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +00:57
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:59
5 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) same time
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 62:53:25
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:58
3 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +2:40
4 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +3:07
5 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +4:58
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Chris Froome (Sky)
KOM: Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac)
Combined: Chris Froome (Sky)
Team Classification: Astana
Most Aggressive Rider: Chris Froome (Sky)
Header image: Water Colour painting by ©Captain Sam Smith, for sale here.