Monday, September 18, 2006

Vuelta Wrap-Up

Having been informed that I was an ungracious ass (not unfair, but I'm at peace with it) for not wanting to see the podium presentations after three solid weeks of watching the Vuelta, I sucked it up nonetheless and watched. It's nothing personal against Vinokorouv really--though I still think he was a backstabbing wank to Ullrich when they were on T-Mobile together for the Tour, he was completely jacked out of the Tour and team leadership in his own right this year through no fault of his own, and this must have been a really satisfying smack to UCI to take his first grand tour, even if it's clearly not the one he wanted. I'm still just crushed about Sastre, whose wishful third would have been out of Vino's purview anyway, and not being a journalist I am fortunately under no obligation whatsover to be fair, so I'm sticking to my foul mood just or not. But, what can you do? Vino earned it. He is bar none the best attacker in the business; no one can touch him. And, I must say he was an exceedingly good sport in not challenging Tommy Danielson for the sprint in the stage that clinched Vino's win, nor Kascheckin's after his smashing hard work as superhelpmate, both of whom richly deserved their victories. Anyhow, on the podium, Vinokorouv was gracious in victory; Valverde was gracious in defeat (as much as it's a defeat to come in second after a grueling stage race); and Kaschechkin, whose attacks can nearly rival Vino's and whose powers of recovery are amazing, was up there fair and square. Next year, Carlos--you took two grand tour near-podiums this season, I believe!

All in all though, an uncommonly thrilling Vuelta! The indomitable we love Erik Zabel took the lead out after a fantastic sprint, with his Milram teammate raising his arms in victory right behind him; stage winner Thor Hushovd took the sprint jersey; Sastre wore yellow, CSC had it's stage, Valverde rode beautifully in the mountains, Chris Horner took the Spanish teams' intrigue in stride and still managed to attack in Madrid and keep 20th overall; Danielson redeemed himself, Euskaltel's mountain gods (if not Mayo) took two stages, we love Triki but you suck Discovery for letting him go kept neatly in the top 10, and finally, anyone who criticizes Carlos Sastre anytime anywhere ever can bite me. On to the Worlds!

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