Monday, September 10, 2012

Cycling Update: Vuelta a Espana

From 1999 to 2005 Lance Armstrong won 7 straight Tour de France. This made him one of the best grand tour racers in history, but cycling is all about dominant riders and now Alberto Contador has matched his seven grand tour wins with his own 7 but in only 6 years. He won the Tour de France in 2007, 2009, and 2010; the Giro d'Italia in 2008 and 2011; and the Vuelta a Espana in 2008 and 2012. What Contador has accomplished has been quite incredible. He's done it with different teams, different managers, and with a drive to always win that is so much fun to watch.

Armstrong is the best grand tour strategist I've seen in cycling, Contador is the best grand tour talent I've seen in cycling. He never holds back, he always wants to win, he always wants to break his opponents back. Armstrong has openly criticized Contador as a poor strategist and a guy who relies on his talent alone, but so far that has worked quite well for Contador.

I can't emphasize enough how much fun Contador is to watch. Often you'll read before some race, like one of the classics, that he's just using this as training and not to expect anything. He of course at some point will put in an attack and try his hand. He always does and in many ways that's exactly what I want from the guy who is the current best rider.

Of course Contador has had his own doping issues. He tested positive in the 2010 Tour de France and was stripped of that win, as well as his Giro d'Italia win in 2011, but to us the viewing public we know that Contador won those races and is the clear top rider when it comes to the grand tours, just as we knew that Armstrong was the best from 1999 to 2005.

The United States got a strong showing from Andrew Talansky, so we'll be keeping an eye on him.

Final General Classification
1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 84:59:49
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:16
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:37
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:10:16
5. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:11:29
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:12:23
7. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:13:28
8. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:13:41
9. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:14:01
10. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:16:13

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