Joaquim Rodriguez and glorious failure
The three leaders finished stage 20 in reverse order, but it didn’t affect the standings. Joaquim Rodriguez made a valiant attempt to snatch back the red jersey, but couldn’t recoup the time he lost when the Great God Numb-Nuts visited him on stage 17 and demanded that he do His bidding.
One dosy moment and another Grand Tour goes begging. After losing the Giro on the final day, Rodriguez is rather cornering the market on glorious failure. It’s impossible not to like him. Even while the tits-upness of it all is hanging in the air, he’s still grinning like a mental, accepting whatever second-rate jersey he happens to be entitled to that day. What a guy.
He’s the best rider in this year’s Vuelta as well. His stage finish sniping has bought him plenty of bonus seconds and today he even managed to crack Alberto Contador, which is no mean feat.
It was more than that, in fact. Towards the end, Contador looked like he was being subjected to additional gravity compared to other riders. He was completely shagged-out. He may well have been aware that his lead was sufficient, but he still ended up pedalling like me. Rodriguez did that to him. Well-ridden, that man.
It was a shame it wasn’t enough. To steal a line from the incomparably dry Gary Imlach from ITV4’s highlights programme: close, but no purito.