Purito Rodriguez is a crafty bugger
Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez is making me talk like a police captain from a derivative Eighties film of late. “Damn it, Rodriguez – what are you doing?” I hear myself say in a grizzled over-the-top American accent.
It’s a rhetorical question, because what Purito is clearly doing is ‘going for the win’. He is doing this because he earns a precious handful of seconds for crossing the line first. On ITV4, one of the commentators talks about these as being ‘bonifications’. Disappointingly, this isn’t a made-up word.
Time bonuses/bonifications are particularly handy for Rodriguez because he’s crap at time trials and is guaranteed to lose time there. Rather than go for a mad, hell-for-leather assault on the other leaders to build up a big buffer, he’s instead adding a handful of seconds each day and like layers of grease on your hob, it’s all building up to something increasingly hard to obliterate. Chris Froome and Alberto Contador might need more than the Cillit Bang of the time trial.
They might be able to gain time on the longer, steadier climbs. Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde clearly have a higher top speed than Chris Froome and Alberto Contador on the steepest slopes (did you see them cheetah past slothful Contador at the end of stage eight?) However, Froome and Contador might match or better them where sustained power is the order of the day.
I’ve always been against time bonuses, but it does seem to have enlivened each day’s racing, because there’s a real incentive to attack. You wouldn’t have thought it was a stage that suited him, but Rodriguez went for the bonus seconds again in stage nine, hauling Phil Gilbert out of the doldrums in the process. It was a great finish to what could have been a fairly dull stage.
Bring on the bonifications.