Friday, December 18, 2009

"Can you hear me now?..."

Somewhere between the UN Climate Change conference and Tiger's marital meltdown you might have heard a pin drop.... wait... we'll play it again... there, did you hear it? I'm writing this blog a bit late because we were in the studio checking the audio, just to make certain the faint sound we heard wasn't just echoes of post Tour/Giro media reports, headlines and gossip still drifting in cyberspace. On December 16th (yes, just last Wednesday) the route for the 2010 Vuelta a España was announced. "can you hear me now.....?" testing, testing.....

They say the 75th anniversary edition (surprise, it is that old) "2010 Vuelta a España will feature fewer time trials and more mountains", classic climbs -

There will be six mountain top finishes, including two new ops to watch the surviving : the Cotobello (stage 16) and the Bola del Mundo. Other tip-top-ops include finishes, in order, at the Xorret del Catí (Stage 8), Andorra (Stage 11), the Pena Carbarga (Stage 14), and the Lagos de Covadonga (Stage 15). The third stage in Malaga will have a spectacular finale, with the Castillo de Gibralfaro in the background. Stage 16 features the Cresta del Gallo a few kilometres before the finish. It's the Bola del Mundo, near Madrid on the penultimate stage, which is expected to decide the overall winner.

The point is - and has always been - where the hell are those?? We don't know! Just for the record, I have most of the past few years of Vueltas on DVD thanks to the folks at World Cycling Productions, and I actually have spent many a trainer hour watching them (see Trainer Season with Phil & Paul), I like the Vuelta, sorta. I was delighted it was there for Tyler Farrar last year in Stage 11, so he could finally get the monkey off his back with his first grand tour stage win. I love watching pros grunt and grind their butts off up a 21% Alto de L'Angliru. But the bottom line is, a) there is so little consistency to the Vuelta that we never can wrap our chains around it, and b) after the Tour cycling fans take a siesta in the late August heat, and c) even the riders get sick and bail before Madrid.

(Below is Spain - where the Vuelta is raced. For reader support and all the little tikes out there reading this blog I have created a link to Google Maps - exploring geography can be fun!)

View Larger Map

Perhaps my favorite part of the ceremonies were the line up of pros set to maybe do battle - including Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Bernard Thevenet - unfortunately none of these greats of past will be gracing the burnt September roads of Spain. Even would-be greats of present - Contador, Valverde, Sastre - are hedging the Vuelta appearance with comments like, "The season is very long and a lot depends on how things develop." (Contador), and "I need a few days to think about things and take the right decision." (Sastre). And these guys are Spanish! Imagine the Italians pulling that trick ahead of the Giro.

So that ultimately begs the question - "Why bother with a Vuelta?" Maybe for late season exorcising of monkeys? I'm going to see Tyler Farrar speak tomorrow night at River City Bikes-for his sake I'm glad it does - and maybe that's why it always should.

2010 Route announcement on Cyclingnews and VeloNews

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