Only minor skirmishes but Chris Froome still got dropped

For those of you wondering how a man can win the Tour de France and then get dropped in the Vuelta a Espana, it’s due to a phenomenon known as ‘being tired’. The final climb of stage seven, long though it was, wasn’t ferocious. Nor was it raced with any real gusto by the favourites. Even so, Chris Froome drifted off the back and lost time.

It’s not the end of the world for him. Last year he started the Vuelta slowly but was racing pretty well by the end. They said he was yo-yoing on early stages, but that’s not really accurate. Imagine trying to sit still in a room made entirely out of moving yo-yos. It was more like that. Froome was the constant. It was everyone else who was speeding up and slowing down and making him feel nauseous. Today had a whiff of that, but all will be revealed on tougher stages next week.

Esteban Chaves is still in the lead

Yesterday I floated the possibility that first and second overall, Esteban Chaves and Tom Dumoulin, might not survive this first mountain stage. However, the favourites group was unusually large at the finish – a sign that they maybe weren’t racing all that hard – and both were in it. The only significant absentees were Froome, Mikel Landa and Tejay Van Garderen (all behind) and Fabio Aru (seven seconds ahead).

That main group probably gives a decent indication who’ll be in the running to win the race overall. As well as those already mentioned, it contained many familiar faces: Rafal Majka, Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin, Joaquim Rodriguez and Domenico Pozzovivo.

All those riders have been mentioned on this website plenty of times, but there was one other rider in the group who has never before earned a mention. That changes today and you can certainly expect to hear about him again, because that man was Songezo Jim.

Songezo Jim!

He’s a South African rider who only took up cycling when he was 14.

“In the Eastern Cape, we actually didn’t have bikes there. I knew there was something called a bicycle, but I didn’t know anything about them.”

Songezo Jim has no major results whatsoever. At the time of writing, he doesn’t even have a proper Wikipedia page. He is, however, called Songezo Jim and surely we can all agree that that in itself counts for an awful lot.

Who won the stage?

Bertjan Lindeman, a Dutch rider. He was in the break. But come on. Songezo Jim!