Freeman Cebu Sports

Vuelta wrap-up and the worlds

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

I wasn’t able to bring my thought to paper during the last Grand Tour of the 2018 season, the Vuelta a Espana. The Vuelta is the poorest of the three GT’s (Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia) and sometimes, it could be so exciting and sometimes could be so boring. The reason why it’s so variable is that its the last GT option for the superstars of the sport.

For example, 2017 defending champion Chris Froome didn’t show up. He already won the Giro last May and he was tired after the Tour. Then Tour winner Geraint Thomas was also a no-show. I mean, what’s the point of going to a third tier race when you have won the first and second? None of course!

However, when a favorite lacked wins prior to the Vuelta, then you can expect that he’d ride the Vuelta so save his and his teams season. In 1999, Jan Ullrich missed the Tour due to injury but he rode the Vuelta and won it.

The 2018 edition was won by a 26yo Brit, Simon Yates, who rides for an Australian team, Mitchelton-Scott. Simon’s twin brother, Adam, also rides for the same team. This is the only time that the three Grand Tours have been won by Brits in the same year!

During the Giro last May, Yates was leading the race looked like the eventual winner when he collapsed with three stages to go. The collapsed was just so sad and cruel and had it not been for Yate’s age and the fact that it was Chris Froome who won it with an incredible 80km solo breakaway, and had it not been that Froome was under the spotlight for his doping test which was still in question (he was reinstated days before the Tour start), people would still have been talking about it today.

Simon rested during the Tour and prepared himself for the Vuelta. His main rivals were the duo of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana, teammates at team Movistar, both bust at the Tour a few weeks earlier. But the challenge was never there for the Valverde and Quintana, and both have huge questions marks on their back going into the 2019 season. For Yates, he was simply on a different level from the rest of the favorites. He would chase, set the pace, something that only the greats like Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault did during the days. It was just amazing to see it  today.

But Yates showed weakness in the penultimate stage when he lost about 20sec to winner, and another future star in Enric Mas, the eventual runner-up. I’m sure that as Yates matures, he will only get stronger. With Froome and Thomas in the tailed of their careers, the Brits will not have a letdown, like the Americans did when Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong retired respectively.

The 2018 World Cycling Championships started yesterday and will end with the Elite Men’s Road race. With a race route so hilly, I think it would be impossible for Peter Sagan to win it again for the 4th consecutive climb. I haven’t picked my winner yet but it doesn’t have to be a climber, it has to be someone who is willing to lose in order to win.

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