An extraordinary end to an extraordinary season
In a remarkable year for cycling, the last Grand Tour of them all, La Vuelta a Espana, served up perhaps the most remarkable highlights of the lot (albeit putting to one side the final stage of the Tour De France for a brief moment!)
First of course, it was Chris Froome’s final outing as an Ineos Grenadier. But for those who follow cycling and have done for a while, that tells only half the story. Froome has been with the same team for 11 years now, starting life as a domestique in the Team Sky set up. It was his performance in the 2011 Vuelta (a title he was subsequently awarded after Juan Jose Cobo was stripped of it for doping offences) that really announced his presence on the international stage even if he did have to play second fiddle for a little while longer to Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France.
It must have been a bitter sweet moment for Froome, especially after the events of the last 18 months and his personal fight back to fitness. OK, he didn’t quite get there this time but there were signs towards the end of the race with some big turns on the front that suggests his arrival at Israel Start-Up Nation next season will be plenty more than just a veteran’s sinecure.
Then we had the sight of La Vuelta in Autumn with leaves falling on the road and threats of snow capped finishes. The latter didn’t materialize (though the leaves most certainly did) and if anyone doubted the beauty and remarkable remoteness of much of Spain, they needed to doubt no more. Some of the racing was accompanied by stunning backdrops, no more so than on the climb up the infamous Angliru. The look on the face of Hugh Carthy, another British rider enjoying a stunning break out season like Tao Geogehan Hart at the Giro just a few weeks earlier, suggested he was not so much enjoying the view as trying his best to suppress the pain on the brutal climb.
And finally there was Primoz Roglic. Sometimes watching Roglic is like watching a British sporting team. Nail biting, especially at the very end, seemingly holding on for grim death. That’s a bit unfair perhaps though it is worth bearing in mind that the difference between Roglic and Richard Carapaz at the end was less than the bonus seconds accumulated by Roglic on the 4 stages he won. Then again, that’s probably the point. He not only defended the Red & Green Jerseys he won in 2019 (becoming the first rider to ever win both back to back) but also won 4 stages in the process compared to Carapaz’s none.
After hearbreak by the final stage of the Tour de France this year, no-one could possibly deny that Roglic bounced back and answered his doubters in the most emphatic way possible. As true champions do.
This year Team JumboVisma were riding Bianchi bikes for the last time. Next year Roglic et al will be atop Cervelo and GreenEdge will have the benefit of Bianchi. There is little doubt that the superb design and engineering of the Bianchi Oltre XR4 and the Bianchi Aquila Time Trial bike have been a major factor in Team Jumbo Visma’s success. It will be interesting to see how things play out next year.
In the meantime of course, you can buy Bianchi bikes from Criterium Cycles. Call us on 0131 663 6220, or DM us via our various social media channels (see below) or email [email protected] for further details. You may not be able to beat Roglic up the Angliru, but owning your own Bianchi Oltre XR4 is a pretty good substitute.