Friday Group Ride #133

Where I live it will be 95°F today, but looking to the weekend and next week the days and evenings, will be getting cooler. Already some of the leaves are starting to lose their chlorophyll, beginning to go yellow or red at the edges. The company I work for is preparing for 2013. There is brochure copy to write. The season is winding down. This might all be a beat or two early, but…

On the roads of Northern Spain, especially the steep ones, the Vuelta is at full tilt, the battle lines drawn, the GC shaking out slowly. It wasn’t long ago that many of us argued over whether Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) or Chris Froome (Team Sky) would win this race. Purito Rodriguez (Katusha) apparently isn’t a regular RKP reader. Otherwise, he might have clued us in to his intention to win his home Grand Tour.

If you have been following closely, you will know what surprises this race has offered up. You would have seen the likes of Froome clinging to wheels. You would have seen Contador attacking with his signature explosiveness but not able to close the deal. You would have seen Rodriguez ride the time trial of his life to keep the jersey on his shoulders.

Perhaps it is still early to cast judgement. The top 5, which includes Robert Gesink (Rabobank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), are all within 3 minutes of one another. How many lead changes and plot twists we have in front of us is almost impossible to tell.

But, the excitement of the Vuelta, and some recent comments about the Tour, got me thinking about just which of the Grand Tours I’ve enjoyed most this season. Ryder Hesjedal’s big Giro win was fun to watch and featured plenty of back and forth with Rodriguez as well as Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD). The Tour, by some estimations, disappointed, with Team Sky managing every last detail to perfection. Still, the Tour is the Tour, a tautology that means something to most race fans.

So, though it might be early, this week’s Group Ride asks the simple question: Which was the best Grand Tour this year? And why?

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10 comments

  1. rashadabd

    The finish of the Giro was realy good and tough to beat (it was close almost the entire race). I think the Vuelta has potential to rival it if thiings heat up between the top 4 in the mountains. I would have to place the TdF 3rd given that the ultimate was pretty clear early on and the most interesting news was tacks in the road and the internal struggle between Froome and Wiggins. In the end, it’s all cycling and fun to watch regardless.

  2. scaredskinnydog

    Its going to be the Vuelta after Nic Roche uncorks an Irish can of whoopass during the final week and becomes the 2′nd Roche to win a grand tour! And YES I have been drinking.

  3. Michael

    It is easy to say which was least interesting: the Tour. When the winning rider, and his lieutenant, and others on the team, say that they were riding harder in training than they are in the race, that is not really a race. A race has to have real competition, where the top competitors are ALL on their very edge. The Giro provided that, and the Vuelta is providing that. The fact that Purito animated both of those races might mean something…

  4. randomactsofcycling

    So far, I have to agree with some and say la Vuelta has been the most animated. Whilst I complain about the ridiculously steep ‘ramps’ of some of the finishes and the fact that it appears even the leading contenders can at times barely keep the pedals turning, it is compelling to watch.
    I couldn’t get myself motivated to watch much of the Giro this year. The Tour actually de-motivated me. It seemed a little too…..clinical….to me.

  5. Spiff

    As I sit here whatching the highlights of todays Vuelta, I think that Rodriguez’s loss in the Giro is fuel for the win in Spain. The Giro is great as it allways is, and was way better than the Tour. The three Spaniards battling will have to pull something special in the end to make it better than this years Giro, its slready better than the tour.

  6. SusanJane

    I’m leaning toward the Velta as well. The Giro had plenty of action and the final stages were truly exciting. But the Velta has been from good to outstanding on nearly every single stage. I really feel like I’m seeing the favorites having to fight for if. Besides, northern Italy was beautiful but I want to go to northwest Spain now!

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