Last year a victory saw Jonathan Tiernan-Locke get a big move to Sky this year it saw Sir Bradley Wiggins put a little gloss on what has been an otherwise “after the lord mayor’s show” season.
Yes it’s still just a third division race and maybe seen by some as just warm up for this week’s World Championship in Florence and they maybe on home soil but Wiggins and Mark Cavendish wanted to do it in this year’s Tour. And they did, doing so in front of crowds you could hardly believe just a couple of years ago.
Crowds not only in villages, towns and cities but crowds on the top of desolate hills in the middle of nowhere in the pissing rain. The amount of people on Honister Pass, on stage 2 from Carlisle to Kendal, where the rainwater was flowing down the road and then on Haytor at the end of stage 6 was immense.
Most of them got to see what they wanted, after the time trial on stage 3 when Wiggins took over the gold jersey and on three occasions – Llanberis (stage 4), Guildford (stage 7) and London (stage 9) – when the man in the British Road Race Champion jersey crossed the line first. Cavendish now having more stage wins than any other rider in the events ten year history in it’s current format.
After Wiggins annus horribilis which followed his 2012 annus mirabilis it was good to see him back to winning ways. Doing it the Wiggins way. Destroy ’em all in the time trial and then control the race with efficient team work.
Also having a young British amateur Simon Yates finish third overall after an excellent win on Haytor, was excellent for the home fans.
But for all the local talent the star of the show for me was the winner of the mountains and sprints classification, Ángel Madrazo. While others came out to receive their post race prize or jersey and looked miserable, Madrazo livened things up. With a smile on his face he interacted with the crowd and they loved guessing who he’d spray with the champagne.
The only thing that spoiled the racing once again was Hugh Porter and the general TV coverage. ITV4 do such a decent job with the Tour de France but here it was a shambles. Especially at the end of the days racing, when they’d cut the programme off to show a 50 year repeat of The Saint with Roger Moore rather than the winners presentation. But then those presentations were an omnishambles from Porter. Clueless about what was being awarded and to whom. Not the only thing he was clueless about all week. Pension him off. Thank god he ain’t doing the Worlds.
Didn’t post about the Vuelta this year. Probably because I didn’t see it live, just highlights and just didn’t get a feel for the race. Monstrous as it was with those climbs. Chris Horner’s victory looked stunning and you can can understand the questions being asked, what with him being the oldest rider to ever win a Grand Tour stage never mind wear the leader’s jersey. But it’s also understandable that he hadn’t raced much this season and had fresh legs while others had tough races behind them.Second place Vincenzo Nibali had a tough Giro and third place Alejandro Valverde was top 10 in the Tour de France. So while this was an end of season struggle for others this was the first thing Horner went for with race legs.