Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Forget That Wanker Cav, It's Yer Vuelta a Espana in Preview, Part Dos: The GC Contenders!

Okay, cycling fans, we've got the course of the fabulous Vuelta down: now who're the poor masochistic bastids twisted enough to take on the thing for the overall? These guys!

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff): you know the drill: the last few years, he's either crashed outta or been too tired to take on the Tour. But, on form, and however you think he has and hasn't done it, and after the natural indiscretions and tactical mishaps of youth, there's been no greater climber who can also take GC in the modern peloton, and the Vuelta is his kind of merciless stomping ground. How his? That's right, punks, he's bagged this Grand Tour alone three times, and if he takes it this year, he'll equal we-still-love Roberto Heras (shut up!)'s four-peat. Wildcard factor: let's face it, Oleg Tinkov's attention's been elsewhere, like getting a resort-perfect tan basking in the radioactive glow that is Peter Sagan, and he may not even remember at this point that there *is* a Vuelta. Ray o' hope: it's !@#$ing Alberto Contador for chrissakes!

Nairo Quintana (Movistar): for some reason, despite Movistar having the second most formidable GC lineup all year (behind the freaks at Sky, of course), our wee little pile o' pure mountain-goatness has had a lackluster season to date. But the mean steeps of the Spanish mountains are perfect for him, and he oughtn't be *too* set back from the get-go after the Stage 1 ITT. Go Nairo, for a high podium spot anyway--who doesn't love a redemption story?

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): Sure, he's theoretically tired from riding--and damn near winning--the Giro, the Tour, half the Classics, the Olympics, and virtually every other road race this year in the UCI calendar--except that he never actually *gets* tired, because he's Alejandro Valverde, he just posed butt-naked and oiled-up for a magazine cover, and, uh, he clearly takes "nutritional science" to a whooooooooooole 'nother level. And of course, he's not going to the Vuelta for himself--he's going for Nairo, if you define "going for" as "hovering over his desiccated desert-drained carcass like a starving vulture waiting for the perfect moment of weakness." *Such* a generous helpmate, Alejandro--and good luck keeping an eye on your own teammate Nairo, much less your actual other competitors!

Ugh, Chris Froome (Sky): fresh off his trouncing Tour de France victory, and still in ghastly irritating delight over his bronze medal in Rio, Froome's ready to do what virtually anyone else would only be capable of doing in his situation: absolutely sucking, except he's got a cybernetic Borg-squadron of half-human half-derailleur tig-welded Franken-wraiths to bring him up to the last 100 meters of every single climb on every single day before they even break a sweat enough to need to dab their delicate brows with a hanky. Me: I hope Mikel Landa--who had a rather indifferent Tour de France, but certainly had enough of being under the domestique yoke at his last team gig before inexplicably bailing for even less green pastures at Sky--finds the legs to match his talent *and* his ambitions and, as Froome did to Wiggins before him, *completely* calls bull!@#$ and bushwhacks--I mean, genuinely accidentally loses his earpiece when he directly tosses it under a race moto's wheel and thus unfortunately can't hear any orders regarding--Froome. Tough to bite the hand that feeds you--but *damn*, Mikel, not *that* tough if a red jersey can be yours on the final podium, amirite?

Esteban Chaves (Orica): he's humble. He floats up mountains like a dream. And, while he's clearly a threat, he's not *such* a proven dead-on threat that the Big Three won't consider pacifying 'im with a little friendly leeway, for a little while at least. Looking for at least a coupla stage wins outta you, kid, and a wholehearted fight for a podium!

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): Oh, Tejay. Bursts o' brilliance, but totally unpredictable, careening from breathtaking greatness to miserable bonkfest within--sometimes multiple times within--a single stage. No matter the odds, we're rooting for you man!

Samuel Sanchez (BMC): Shut up! Go to hell! BMC sez he's co-team leader and he deserves it! How many !@#damn gold-medal statues of you are there in the village square of *your* hometowns, you miserable haters--and you can start taking bets now on what vicious mountain stage will be his!

Tom Dumoulin (Giant): just kidding! Seriously, when the !@#$ did these humongous hulking Paul Bunyan Classics goons suddenly become viable Grand Tour contenders, particularly once the mountains kick in? It's happening *everywhere*--and I call, well, hijinks, *that's* right *I* said it, *hijinks*!


Well, there's my Vuelta GC roundup, and if there's anything race predictions show, it's that they b--that anything is possible. Next up: The 'Nother Riders. Til then, venga Alberto, and Samu, bring us home one last stage win before you retire!

1 comment:

Tom said...

I just want to politely, respectfully say that, as likable as Froome seems to be, I hate him for (allegedly) being a filthy, blood-doping cheat, and I hope he gets a wicked case of food poisoning by Stage 3.

That is all.