Chris Froome loses the Vuelta

I’ve said before that no-one really wins a Grand Tour. It’s more that one person manages to postpone losing until after the race has finished. At some point or another, everyone else loses. It’s much like life.

I’m pretty sure that Chris Froome lost the Vuelta yesterday. A few panting efforts in previous stages foreshadowed this, but there was still a possibility that he might fare better on a long, stodgy climb rather than the relatively short, steep,  jittery numbers which have comprised much of the racing up until now. There was a long climb yesterday and Froome lost time. That pretty much does for the one remaining scenario where he might have made ground on his rivals.

Actually, they’re not rivals now. The three Spaniards – Rodriguez, Contador and Valverde – are in a different race. Their race mostly revolves around Alberto Contador falling to the back of their small group and then attacking, Rodriguez chasing and Valverde hauling himself back up to them shortly afterwards. It’s an oddly masochistic way to progress up a mountain, but it makes for good telly.

Valverde hasn’t definitively lost the Vuelta yet, but he’s odds-on to be the next to fall out of contention. As for the other two, it basically boils down to whether Contador has softened Rodriguez up enough to crack him soon or whether he’s inadvertently softened himself up.

Softened himself up? That sounds faintly rude. Maybe it is.