I leave the country for a few days to visit dear friends and suddenly we’re chock-a-block with sporting news. Here’s what I’ve missed:-
Many thought that Sunday’s stage in the Vuelta, taking in the fearsome climb up the Angliru, might be decisive and they were correct. Geox’s Juan Jose Cobo, who had been looking lively in finishing 2nd on Saturday’s stage, positively cantered up the ramp in the fog on Sunday’s queen stage, leaving the other contenders trailing in his wake, to take the leader’s jersey. Sky’s Froome and Wiggins lost a handful of seconds on yesterday’s benign stage, while Katusha’s Purito fell and, having finished over 10 minutes back, took himself out of contention.
On today’s 5.9km steep climb to Pena Cabarga, Cobo couldn’t resist trying to gain further advantage. Sky’s Froome was having none of it, matching him and finally emerging triumphant. Cobo was 2nd so that’s 8 seconds back but they could be decisive. In any event, even though Wiggins is still in 3rd, Sky will be putting all their eggs into Froome’s baskets. Tomorrow’s stage into Noja looks more suitable for a breakaway, while the two stages in the Basque country simply must be won by the boys in orange, if they’re to rescue their Vuelta. The last realistic opportunity to snatch the red jersey is on Saturday’s 187km stage from Bilbao to Vitoria which finishes with 50km on the flat. Surely Sky can time-trial their way into red?
Over in Italy, the new Giro di Padania (ie Tour of N Italy) started with a win for Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox) who’s been garnering plenty of headlines this summer. In France, young Aussie Rohan Dennis is leading the Tour de l’Avenir, which started on Sunday and showcases emerging talent.
Of course, the really big news is the recently, hotly denied Radioshack-Leopard Trek merger. It allegedly came as a shock to the riders, with the possible exception of Frandy. However, I was delighted to read in L’Equipe that the UCI’s primary concern would be the riders. A large number of whom will now be looking for gainful employment. Indeed, a number with contracts for next year, may not be too happy at this turn of events.
Team Sky have announced the signing of pint-sized Aussie Richie Porte whose departure from Saxobank will further weaken Alberto’s support squad for 2012. No news yet as to where the Manx missile is heading. Maybe he just wants to keep us all in suspense or perhaps it’ll be announced on the eve of the Tour of Britain.
It was a Spanish clean sweep of the podiums at Misano in Italy this week end with winners Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Nico Terol. All three are back on home soil for the next round at Aragon on 18 September.
As we were driving back yesterday from Italy, we passed a number of MotoGP trucks including those of the Yamaha Racing team. Only one day after his 3rd victory of the season, which allowed him to close the championship gap to Honda’s Casey Stoner to 35 points, reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo and team-mate Ben Spies were back on track at Misano testing the 2012 1000cc M1.
During the 2011 season, manufacturers can test 2012 bikes for a total of 8 rider/days with their MotoGP riders. Yamaha has now completed 4 rider/days, the same number as Honda, but one less than Ducati. Suzuki is yet to announce a 1000cc project.
First hurricanes and now torrential rain is causing scheduling chaos at the US Open, where most of the fancied players are still in contention.
Eurosport have signed Rafa Benitez to their commentary team. Having managed in Spain, England and Italy, he has the right credentials to be commentating on European Cup matches along with Arsene Wenger.
I’m still catching up on the Vuelta after my week away, but the GC has a rather unexpected look to it compared to how it was when I left after stage nine!
Rafa is a great signing for Eurosport. He’s knowledgeable, pithy and speaks his mind rather than spouting popular opinion – all boxes Robbie Savage singularly fails to tick on 5Live/ESPN!
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