Discuss: The Vuelta Podium

Fotoreporter Sirotti


With in-form men such as Vincenzo Nibali, Joaquin Rodriguez, Igor Anton, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck all participating in the 3-week event, why/how did two domestiques end the race on the top two steps of the podium?


About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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10 Responses to Discuss: The Vuelta Podium

  1. Adam says:

    My answer in five characters: 40K TT.

    Most domestiques can ride a fairly good TT when not charged with spending hours on the front day after day. This distance took out Anton, Rodriguez, Martin and Scarponi off the bat. Sastre's past his prime and Menchov rode a good race. Nibali didn't have the legs and VdB's injuries from teh TdF were more serious than Wiggo's.

    I've followed results closely for 15 years, and like to think that in most cases that allows me to see the upward swing of riders others say came out of nowhere, but even I didn't see this one coming.

  2. Gadi says:

    Dear Whit
    Can it b in Hebrew? – just finish writing so much about it in Hebrew…

  3. azens says:

    well when a guy comes out of no where like cobo it makes you wonder…. just sayin

    • lcky says:

      @ azens If Cobo came out of nowhere, Froome didn't exist before this Vuelta. Talk about double standards

      • azens says:

        Cobo is 4 years older with a stop at the doping hot bed of doping know as Saunier Duval, we have reached a point with this sport where we should wonder and question…. just my 2 cents

        • Adam says:

          And Wiggins is a year older than Cobo and from the hot bed of doping known as Cofidis. A team mate of his was caught doping in the 07 Tour and the entire team left mid race in the exact same manner as Saunier Duval. Not to mention Millar, VdB, Astarloa et al. rode for the team as well.
          Icky's right to call you out on your hypocracy – Cobo's never tested positive and until he does we have to applaud his victory.

  4. Brian says:

    I think what Adam says definitely has some validity. Lack of pressure is also a factor. The guys that did the best weren't the first options on their teams, which means their captains essentially ended up acting as diversions. Cobo probably wasn't seen as a threat by any of the big "contenders" so he was seen as a small surprise for most of the tour and only seen as a real threat after stage 14. Staying off the radar definitely worked in his favor.

  5. Pappy says:

    Heat and hills – That murderous Spanish heat through the first ten days has to really discourage a lot of northern riders combined with the endless steep climbs, but Cobo would be better with that.

    The urge to try to do well in the last (and perhaps ugliest) grand tour of the year has to wain quickly for most when things start to go wrong early on.

  6. cthulhu says:

    What about Sky's disastrous TTT. They ended up just one second in from of Team Geox, I haven't seen the stage myself, but how much time did you think they had lost through losing the fifth rider and having to wait for him? That would surely not have been enough for Wiggins but maybe enough for Froome? Also, the stage after the first rest day where the Liquigas crew ripped the field to pieces, Froome and Wiggins lost time on Cobo, because they were inattentive? I really believe Sky lost the overall through such mistakes than Cobo being that dominant. He might have been the best man uphill, but I guess Froome was the better man in the overall. He just had Wiggins as a burden and those crucial mistakes by Sky working against him.

    And azens is right, with his background coming out of nowhere, without wanting to question it, there is a taint of doubt shadowing Cobo''s success. Remember Mosquera and his teammate from last year…?

  7. Simon says:

    Don't forget Cobo and Froome are the only riders in the top ten who had not ridden a grand tour this year!

    We've seen riders like Nibali last year perform well in both the Giro and then the Vuelta, but the Giro was so hard this year that it must have taken several weeks to recover. To then complete a good preparation in only 4 or 5 weeks is hard. And we've rarely seen riders perform well in the Vuelta after riding the Tour, there's barely a month between each races. The top two riders on the other hand were able to focus entirely on the Vuelta. And since the bulk of the racing was done in the first two weeks, it was also harder for riders with inadequate preparation to ease into the race like in most grand tours where the first week is dominated by flat sprint stages. I'll be curious to see if one of these riders could do such a performance in the Giro or the Tour where some strong riders are focusing on those races… definitely not sure about that.

    And nobody is talking about the third step of the podium, Wiggins. For me he's another revelation of this Vuelta. After his disastrous 2010 Tour I had some serious doubts about him, but to break his collarbone at the Tour and then rebound so well at the vuelta is truly a phenomenal performance. And for a TT specialist, he sure performed well on such a mountainous course, shaking some great climbers off his wheel in the mountain. I can't wait to see him at the tour next year.

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