Peter Sagan is the latest big name to drop out of the Vuelta, following Nibali’s ignominious exit. Tinkoff-Saxo are threatening legal action – they claim there’s little doubt that the Shimano neutral service motorbike was at fault.
Sagan lashed out at the medical car, and even kicked his own bike. Although his rock’n’roll tantrum earned him a fine, few can blame him for being upset. His tour is now over, and Tinkoff-Saxo now has to cut the red tape to make sure Sagan can compete as soon as possible.
Hold your nerve
Even without the intervention of support vehicles, the cyclists still have to deal with the anarchic Vuelta peloton, and Esteban Chaves found himself caught up in a crash on stage 8.
This may have affected Chaves, because Dumoulin took stage 9 with a merciless effort dropping the hammer on Chris Froome with a savage attack on the climb. Giant-Alpecin will be happy to see their bike crossing the finish line first.
Rodriguez has won more Vuelta stages than any other rider and is putting in a good show so far. He 2005 he won King of the Mountains in the Vuelta, and he won the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this year.
Heading into the rest day less than a minute behind the GC leader, Rodriguez is enjoying a Vuelta well suited to him, and I’m sure Spanish cycling fans are hoping they’ll see something special from their compatriot.
The Empire strikes back
Stage 9 showed Froome keeping Team Sky within sight of the general classification lead, and within a second of Quintana. That said, Valverde is setting the pace nicely for Movistar Team, and could still be given the “go ahead” by general manager Unzué, should Quintana show signs of flagging.
In other words, Froome has two big names to worry about, and they’re both in a team that appear to have planned on winning the Vuelta.
Froome seems to have plenty of energy in his legs, and is well positioned for a historic Vuelta-TdF double, but at 1 min 18 seconds behind Dumoulin, Team Sky won’t want to see him concede much more time to the maillot rojo. It only takes one incident to ruin your tour, and Froome must feel like he has several mountains to climb, quite literally, before he can be hailed as a cycling legend.