The Vuelta is close enough that you can almost taste it—and not a moment too soon. Cycling fans have been getting antsy with the second tier events.
The Classics hand off so nicely to the Giro, and then June splinters into a largely two-tiered Tour warm-up—Dauphine or Suisse. July is sensation, but afterwards, cycling wanders Europe like a bunch of hungover Freshmen on Saturday morning.
It’s safe to say Vuelta squads must be some of the hardest to pick. Some top contenders weren’t even considering the event until their Tours collapsed. Others are on a hot streak, but—having already done two Grand Tours—may be taking career risks by piling on a third. Of course, if they’ll be on another squad next year, is that really the DS’ problem?
Of course, with this year’s Vuelta starting on the flat and friendly roads of the Netherlands, and a rest day coming a mere four stages into the race, I’d imagine that first week attrition will be fairly high, as the sprinters attempt to make hay while the sun shines, well ahead of the four staggering mountaintop finishes slated for the ’09 event.