Nelson Oliveira rides away from everyone

What is it about the Portuguese? Do they only have a finite number of sportsmen’s names? Rui Costa is both a footballer and a cyclist and so’s Nelson Oliveira. Here’s a hint for you, Portugal. Mix and match a bit. Throw in a Rui Oliveira and a Nelson Costa and you wouldn’t have to double up.

Nelson Oliveira got in a sizeable break today and then attacked it with really quite a long way to go. He’s Portugal’s time trial champion though, as well as playing up front for Notts Forest on loan from Benfica, so he managed to hold the chasers off. Normally, the big group’s favourite in these situations, but here it was a case of diffusion of responsibility, where the more people are involved, the more likely each is to leave the work to someone else.

Gianluca Brambilla and Romain Sicard gained a bunch of time

You won’t really know either of them and you may not really hear from them again in this race, but Brambilla and Sicard vaulted into the top ten overall thanks to being in the break. They finished almost four minutes ahead of the peloton, which was bad news for Nairo Quintana and Louis Meintjes who dropped to 11th and 12th respectively.

Quintana’s been ill, apparently. He hopes he’ll be better tomorrow, but extreme physical stress – such as from riding long, hard bike races – isn’t really conducive to rapid recovery. He and others seem confident, but I think he’ll flag. Tomorrow finishes with a good, long 18km climb, so we’ll get an idea then. If not, Sunday’s finish is steeper. And Monday’s is steeper still. Monday’s is really steep. Really, really steep.


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