Yes, despite the bone-crushing news of Euskaltel-Euskadi's season-end demise (aaaaaiiiiggghhhhhhh! aaaaaiiiigggggggh! aaaaiaiiigggghh!), we can console ourselves with this: it's the fabulous Vuelta a Espana, baby! Yer Part Un Preview:
The Course: this ain't no wimpy Tour de France, baby--stage one we've got a 27k individual time trial to get someone into gold, then it's right into the mountains and some serious pain from there. 1 team time trial, 1 individual (and mercifully hilly) time trial, 6 pretty flat stages, and 13--count 'em, 13--medium to high mountain stages, with 11 leg-munching mountain-top finishes to send Euskaltel and the GC contenders soaring and pretty well everyone else crumbling like a pile of stale cookies. Some stages to watch: Stage 2's 177k schlep up the Cat 1 Alto do Monte de Groba. Stage 8: we pile on some serious high-altitude agony with finishes at, on consecutive days, the Cat 1 Alto de Penas Blancas and the hors categorie Alto de Hazallanas. Next up, a 38 k individual time trial to freak out the GC contenders, then it's right into the Pyrenees, with an epic schlep up to the Col de Peyragoudes, three more mountain top finishes, and, on the second to last day, the surely decisive Angliru'. Ouch for them--woo-hoo for us! Sprints?: really, it's not the Tour, who gives a crap? The official website: lavuelta com. Onwards and lots of upwards, beeyotches!
Bonus Boonen News!: and, in a totally irrelevant but still earth-shattering diversion--and no, I'm not ready to discuss Euskaltel transfers (aiiiigggghhhhhhh! aaaaaiiiigggghhhhh! aaaaiiiigggghhhh!) yet--poor Tom Boonen's crap 2013 season is officially over, tanked by a nut-crushing saddlesore and, gnarliest of all, fear that surgery on this tender area would cause a lumpy and distinctly saddle-uncomfortable scar in an extremely sensitive area. Rest up, whet away that excess energy on your Ferrari, and come back unsored and ready for revenge in 2014, Tommeke!
Part Dos: the GC contenders. And stage fighters. Aupa Samuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!