As winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere the Vuelta may seem like just a distant memory to many but the memories are still fresh for our roadside reporter Ed Hood. Here's his story from the last day of the Vuelta '12; the day where Degenkolb won yet another stage and Contador yet another GrandTour.
Roadside Vuelta'12: ‘Ultimo kilometro!’ the 'speaker' bellows into his mic as Ed Hood takes up his position on the barriers at 100m to go, to bring you all the excitement and emotion of the final stage in Madrid - Roadside!
Race report: The overall classification of the 2012 Vuelta a Espaсa is signed, sealed and delivered to Seсor A. Contador Velasco. Just a month after coming off his ban, El Pistolero is back on top. But the big question is just how many Grand Tours has he won? Bertie clearly held up seven fingers as he crossed the line ….
Roadside Vuelta'12: The roadside was absolutely packed full of crazies on the exciting Bola Del Mundo altitude finish yesterday - two of whom worked for Pez! Ed Hood runs us through all the action of the last mountain stage of the Vuelta'12 - Roadside!
Race Report: One final showdown - 170 kilometers and one monster mountaintop finish to Bola del Mundo remain. Can Valverde or Rodriguez dislodge Contador from the top spot? Let's dive in...
A long transition day at the end of a three week tour with a HUGE day on tap tomorrow meant that the racing was fairly calm for most of the day, but a frenetically raced last 20km lit the race up!
Former Polish road and time trial champion, 28 year old Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) from Krakau has been riding a very consistent Vuelta; his nine top twenty stage finishes have brought him to the edge of the magic top ten in only his second Grand Tour. Ed Hood caught up with the talented up and coming rider on the second rest day to get his take on the Vuelta so far.
Race Report: Stage 18 needed the photo finish camera to separate Ben Swift and stage winner Daniele Bennati at the line in Valladolid. The Italian denied the Englishman his first Vuelta stage win by the width of his front tyre. Bennati was just too swift for Swift!
It was supposed to be a relatively simple day - sure, there was a long climb to the finish, but at less than 4% average, it shouldn't have been selective. This was a day for the breakaway and a day to speculate about the showdown on Bola del Mundo…except it wasn't.
PEZ’s resident soothsayer Viktor, has renamed the Vuelta the ‘Spanish Hill Climb Championships’ and says he can’t handle another mountain top finish – I wasn’t man enough to remind him about the Bola del Mundo on Saturday. However, he has been waxing lyrical about stage 13 and the winner of those 173 kilometres into General Franco’s birthplace of Ferrol in Galicia – ‘a great stage, and Cummings is a Man!’
Race Report: Throw some ramps of 22% in at the end of a 183 kilometre stage and you are bound the see some top action. Two riders stayed away to the finish at the top of the Cuitu Negru; Dario Cataldo won the hardest of stages, but “Purito” Rodriguez controlled Alberto Contador and showed him his rear wheel at the line. Froome faltered and Valverde concreted his place on the podium. Yet more excitement from La Vuelta.
Race report: Here be wolves! Here be bears! We’re in the Picos de Europa, one of the wilder regions of western Europe, where the rarer wildlife has a tenuous foothold in the mountains. Some of the best riders, some real animals, have written their names into the history books up here: Lejarreta, Jalabert, Delgado, Millar, Herrera. Who will join them today?
Race Report: I’m not a boxing fan, but if you had four matched fighters toe to toe trading punches without any quarter given, that would describe the last four kilometres of today’s stage to the summit of the Puerto de Ancares. The podium has not been settled yet, but the diminutive “Purito” Rodriguez showed he had a lot of fight left.
With the breakaways generally not making it succesfully to the finish line so far in this year's Vuelta, today's Friday the 13th Stage looked like being a lucky one for the escape artists. Most of the riders and director sportifs interviewed before the race thought a break would rule today and in the end we were treated to a classic nailbiting finish of peloton vs break vs break!
Race Report: Design a stage profile with a steep summit finish and you know who is going to be attacking at the front, yes the little stick of Catalan dynamite; Joaquim Rodriguez. Alberto Contador tried to stay with him, and nearly managed it, but Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome were in a little bit of trouble. It’s still all to play for, with 1 minute 20 seconds separating the top four.
The fab four of Rodriguez, Valverde, Contador and Froome battled it out today in the Vuelta's only individual time trial but it was Astana's Kessiakoff who stole the show!
Another flat day greeted the riders in Spain today and with the big time trial on tomorrow it was left to the sprinters to animate the race as Rodriguez and co. sat in to save their legs.
Roadside St.8: After the less than best day at stage 7 in Alcaсiz, the start at Lleida was much more interesting, lots of riders to see and loads of old faces to meet up with. It was very hot again, but a great time at La Vuelta a Espaсa. This is how the day panned out...
Roadside St.7: I just couldn’t keep away from La Vuelta a Espaсa, the draw was just too much for me to fight, so plans were made and fuel was loaded in the tank and off I went to see what I was missing. Well, Stage 7 to Alcaсiz was maybe not the best, but how could I not go?
Race Report: After a season best described as forgettable (so far), Philippe Gilbert showed that there's still some racing to go before the end of the year, and there's still plenty of time to make good on the sensation of 2011. Gilbert and race leader/hometown hero, Joaquim Rodriguez, throttled all comers on the tough final climb of Montjuic, just before plummeting into Barcelona. Let's take a closer look...