Tag Archives: Vuelta a España

Party Time


11 September 2017

The last Grand Tour of the year is over. Time to share some memorable photos of the last couple of days. Just to prove how great this year’s Vuelta has been.


Flying with a helicopter was a dream come true for these guys!


Chris Froome won the Vuelta, but his teammates are even more excited about it!


Six victories for the Quick Step Floors Cycling Team in this Vuelta. Celebrate!


And these guys were having fun on their own teambus after the last stage.


Alberto Contador is waving to his fans. Great ending of a great career.


Time for a nap now. Sweet dreams, Esteban Chaves!

 

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Pizza Time

Column

12 September 2016

Every year after the end of the Vuelta there is this feeling of sadness. Not because the Vuelta was boring. Not at all. The many attacks in the mountains, the strong comebacks of Froome and Chaves and the exciting sprints made this Vuelta one of the best grand Tours of the year. No, the feeling of sadness sets in, because there will be no grand Tour anymore this year. Also, the end of the Vuelta means that the season is almost over. Only a few more weeks to go. But most of the riders are looking forward to the end of the season. Some of them were even riding their final ride yesterday. For instance, Chris Froome is not coming in action anymore this season. So now I understand why he was already eating a pizza with Esteban Chaves from Orica-BikeExchange. It is because he can.

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The final grand Tour is over. That means that also the final big ceremony is done. The organisation of the Vuelta a España sure did everything to make it a perfect one. They even made the riders ride one extra lap in the last stage, so that the ceremony would be in the dark. Now that is insane. Not that the thousands of Colombians along the roads minded. They were happy to see their heroes pass by one extra round. Two Colombians on the podium, they can be very proud.

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© Graham Watson

Well, who would have thought? The BMC Racing team beats the Movistar Team and goes home with the award for best team of the Vuelta. What an achievement. If I were them, I would go party and have a couple of drinks. Or a pizza. Or both. Ask Christopher Froome for more details, he knows where to get one!

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Dear UCI (2)

25 August 2016

Dear UCI,

Woops! There it was, a metal pole. Unsecured. No straw block or a man with a whistle nearby. And so it went wrong. Steven Kruijswijk and Jan Bakelants crashed into this metal pole. Of course, we can blame the organisation of the Vuelta for this. It is their fault. And I know that you will blame them too. Just to get this ‘problem’ of your plate again. At least the Vuelta apologized to the rider and the team. Not that it helped much. The damage is already done. Steven Kruijswijk is out of the Vuelta. Luckily, Jan Bakelants is okay after his crash. Even luckier that only these two riders have crashed into this pole.

Last year in the Basque Tour some riders also crashed into a metal pole. One of them was Peter Stetina and he said yesterday that it was upsetting that this happened again. He thought that his crash last year initiated change. Because you stated that you would investigate the incident. Also, the riders’ association (CPA Cycling) tried to convince you to adopt new standards for races. Those new standards included more explicit regulations for the final kilometres and multiple inspections of the course before the riders arrive. CPA Cycling made a statement on Twitter again yesterday: “We ask for New Rules in the final 3 km of race courses, We ask @UCI_cycling to put in place our Security Plan asap!”

Investigate is one thing, but sometimes it is not enough. How much more ‘accidents’ need to happen before you will get up, get out of your office and actually do something? It is ‘only’ a collarbone fracture this time. All the riders don’t even want to think about what else could have happened. Some of them are angry with you, and I cannot blame them: “Hey @UCI_cycling how about you stop banning oversocks and do something??”, is what Geraint Thomas said on Twitter yesterday.

Dear UCI, it is time for some changes. The investigations are over, it is time to act. Do you realize that the riders are out there on the roads, risking their life every race, every day? But they take that risk. They know it is a part of their job. It is your job to do anything that is in your power to lower the risks of accidents to the most minimal level that is possible. Do not wait any longer, make it happen. Do it for ‘your’ riders.

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The Vuelta is here!

Column
18 August 2016

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that Christopher Froome won the Tour de France? In reality, it is already four weeks ago. Don’t we all agree that it was a boring Tour – again. The first week was still exciting, but after that bizarre descent from Froome and all the running on that mountain, it was all done and dusted. Froome showed for the third time that he was the strongest rider of the field. Almost all the other classification riders could not or did not attack. Scared of their own position. The ‘all or nothing’ attitude seems to be missing in the last editions of the Tour de France. Boohoo!

Well, it is time to sit up straight again, because the Vuelta a España is about to start. The Olympics were also very entertaining, but cycling fans want to watch cycling again after a while. And this race is the most relaxed grand Tour of the three grand Tours. Slow days are allowed, there are spectacular sprints, mountains are covered in clouds, there are sheep and many cows everywhere. And there are attacks! Over and over again. It is the most romantic race of all and… Blow out the candles and get rid of the romantic stuff now. It is time for the facts. Because who do we need to follow in these three weeks in Spain? Do not miss out on these ten guys right here:

1. Tejay van Garderen. He messed up the Tour de France again. So he wants revenge. Winning the Vuelta might be hard, but he wants to go for a top-five or stage win.

2. Nairo Quintana. With a place in the top-five last year (fourth) and the disappointment of this year’s Tour de France, Quintana’s goal is to make it to the podium. Maybe he is thinking of winning his first Vuelta, but then he has to be in a better shape than a few weeks ago.

3. Louis Meintjes. He was there, in the Tour de France. A top-ten classification. But he is not going to the Vuelta for a top-ten, he is here to claim some stage victories. Better watch him in the mountains.

4. Esteban Chaves. Watch this little fellow. With two stage wins last year he is back to claim more than that. Podium? Why not? Claim his first win of a grand Tour? It is possible, especially after his second place in the Giro this year.

5. Steven Kruijswijk. He was so close in this year’s Giro d’Italia. But he took too much risk in one of the descents. And gone was the pink jersey. He has learned his lesson. And now he is back. Pink is his favorite colour, but red might suit him just as well.

6. Christopher Froome. The winner of the Tour de France starts in the Vuelta. And he is there with only one goal and that is the red jersey. After two second places, in 2011 and 2014, Froome thinks it is about time to show the world that he is not only a ‘Tour de France guy’.

7. Alberto Contador. What a shame that he did not finish the Tour de France due to two crashes. But he is pain-free, he races again and he is ready for the Vuelta. We can expect some early attacks from him in the mountains.

8. Philippe Gilbert. He is always strong in the Vuelta, so I bet he will go for a stage win this year. There aren’t many sprinters in this edition of the Vuelta, so that means that the chances to win a sprint stage increase for Gilbert.

9. Simon Gerrans. We all remember his crash in the Tour de France. That was a nasty one. But he has recovered and the Vuelta starts with a team time trial. His team is good in that kind of stuff. He wore pink and yellow already, so why not red for a change?

10. Omar Fraile. Does this name ring a bell? He is the winner of the mountain classification of last year. I don’t know if he is able to do it again this year, with so many good climbers participating, but you never know what he is capable of, so keep a close eye on him too.

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South Africa’s New Hope

24 June 2016

Louis Meintjes. He was born on the 21st of February, 1992. He grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. Meintjes started to race at the age of sixteen. It was hard for him as a junior rider. There is not a clear pathway in South Africa for becoming a professional. He was lucky enough to get the opportunity to sign at a team in the year 2012. The Lotto-Belisol under 23 team saw potential in him and so they made him an offer to come and join the team. Due to visa issues he was not able to race a full programme, so he only raced for three months in that year. In 2013, he signed for the South African team MTN-Qhubeka. With the signing, the visa issues disappeared too, because that team arranged a visa card for the whole season. In the three years that he has raced there, Meintjes raced a lot of races. Last year the team even got a wildcard for the Tour de France, but unfortunately Meintjes could not finish the race, because he fell ill in the last week. In 2014 Meintjes already stated that he has big dreams. He does not only want to win stages one day, he wants to win one of the big classics. He came close last year, in the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He became eleventh, a big achievement for such a young rider. After the disappointment of the Tour, Meintjes started in the Vuelta and he became 10th in the general classification. He could keep up quite long with the favorites in the mountains and after some talking with his team managers, he decided to go for a good place in the general classification, which led him to place ten. It was quite a shock for the MTN-Qhubeka team when Meintjes announced that he would leave the team to join the Italian Lampre-Merida. They had set out a plan for Meintjes for the upcoming years and yet they could throw all those plans out of the window. According to Meintjes it gave him more opportunities and he could learn more from an experienced team. Lampre-Merida has given him space to grow this year and he will start again in the Tour de France. Hopefully he will make it to the finish this year and maybe he will do some great things on the bike in the Tour de France. Louis Meintjes. He is on his way to become South Africa’s new hope.

Louis Meintjes
© Bettini

 

Belgium’s New Hope

2 March 2016

Jasper Stuyven. He was born on the 17th of April, 1992. He was raised in Heverlee, a part of Leuven. At home, his nickname is ‘Jappe’. At a young age, Jasper started cycling and when he was twelve years old, he started to race in competition. His parents supported him in every way they could. His father never even missed a race of him. In 2009, he became a junior and already in his first year he won the World Championships. He jumped away from a group of riders and came solo over the finish. In 2010, he was the winner of Paris-Roubaix for juniors. He thought that this was an incredible win, also because he wore the rainbow jersey. In 2014, he joined the American team Trek Factory Racing (now known as Trek-Segafredo). This was his first year as a professional rider and was meant to be a year of learning. He started in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to help his teammate Cancellara. At the end of the season, he was allowed to start in the Vuelta. In the flat stages he showed that he had the power to sprint with the best sprinters of the peloton, which brought him to a fourth place three times. This surprised everyone, because no one expected that he could sprint that fast. In 2015, he felt strong in the beginning of the season. Nevertheless, a crash during Strade Bianche had the consequence that he wasn’t good in the Spring classics. His next focus was the Tour de France, but a virus made an end to that goal. His disappointment was big, but he motivated himself for the Vuelta. He won the sprint in stage eight and thus claimed his first victory in a Grand Tour. During the winter he trained hard, because this year has to become a better year than last year. It already has a great start. With a long solo he won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne a couple of days ago. He could not believe it himself and was extremely happy. He is still figuring out what his role is in the peloton, although his goals are made up in his head. He is full of ambition and ready for more wins. He wants to ride the Spring classics and one day he wants to win the Tour of Flanders. He is even dreaming of stage wins in the Tour de France. And why shouldn’t he? Belgium is comparing him to Boonen and Museeuw already, but he hates that. He is not them. He wants to create his own history, his own victories, his own story. Jasper Stuyven. He is on his way to become Belgium’s new hope.

 
© Trek – Segafredo