Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Greatest Stage Ever?

What a year for bike racing. Okay, most of the press is bad but, as if the sport knows it's in trouble and needs to make a statement, we're getting some of the best bike racing I've ever seen, or even read about.

Today's stage in the Vuelta was absolutely unbelievable (I realized I've used this word a lot this year). In the battle for the GC, two of the best--and most interesting--riders in the peloton have been waging a cat and mouse war for the last few weeks--maybe a shark attack war is a better metaphor, actually, as it's been attack, attack, attack to see who will crack. Alexandre Vinokourav is probably the most aggressive rider in the sport. Alejandro Valverde is probably the most talented. After failing to crack Valverde on any climb or even in the time trial, which up until this year was Valverde's only weakness, it's looked as though Vino would have to settle for second. But after failing to gap him on yesterday's final climb, and then watching helplessly as Valverde outsprinted him for more bonus seconds (Valverde is by far the best sprinter of any racer who can climb at all), Vino issued this statement:

Nothing is Over

So what happens when you can't out climb, out sprint, or out time trial someone? You either lose or, what the hell, attack on a descent. Today, Vino attacked on the final climb--again--only to, once again, have Valverde bring him back by the summit prior to a 20k plunge to the finish line. So he attacked on the descent and, somehow, gained over a minute and a half of time to take the race lead. It's truly the craziest thing I've ever seen happen in a major bike race. sounded like they agreed, using language in their live report such as "descending like a demon," and, then, "descending like a looney."

Unfortunately, because I live in the USA I can't watch this, which I could if I lived almost anywhere else. I guess our hundreds of channels don't have room for one of the most difficult sporting events on the planet so we can bring you more shopping, dysfunctional family talk shows, bass fishing, and NASCAR.

Anyway, if you like bike racing, attempt to track this down. And if you find it, make sure and let me know.

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