Vuelta Travelogue - Anticipation and Trepidation
Stage 21, September 17th,
Madrid, 150 km
The Midas Touch
In Greek mythology King Midas is popularly remembered for his ability to turn anything he touched into gold. On the roads around Madrid today it seemed as though Midas had indeed touched the new Vuelta Champion, Alexandre Vinokourov. Everything was gold; his clothing, helmet, shoes and his entire bike including the rims and brake cables.
Golden Boy ( Images © Unipublic )
Starting in the outskirts of Madrid the final stage was flat and finished with six laps in the heart of the city. In the traditional manner of most Grand Tours the day opened with a leisurely pace as everyone congratulated everyone else and themselves on completing the race. Approaching the final laps the race turned on the after-burners much to the delight of the road side crowds awaiting their heroes. A promising break attempted to grab the final sprint but in the end it was a bunch gallop. To the joy of many the highly respected Erik Zabel (Team Milram) crossed the line first ahead of Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole). Vinokourov cruised over the line as the new Vuelta Champion and Hushovd ensured his Points Classification jersey.
The highly respected Erik Zabel (Team Milram) crossed the line first ( Images © Unipublic )
Without doubt this has been a terrific Vuelta with exceptional racing almost every day. For a while it has helped us forget the ugly doping cases swirling around below the glossy surface of our sport. Vinokourov and the entire peloton should be thanked for a ‘clean' race (as far as we know today). We can only hope that the Vuelta 2006 is leading the sport into a calmer period devoid of drug scandals. Time will tell, but for the moment Vinokourov's well earned golden outfit today is hopefully symbolic of what cycling needs at the end of a tumultuous season – “The Midas Touch” .
VINOKOUROV!!! ( Images © Unipublic )
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