In pro cycling, where riders are rouleurs, grimpeurs, barouders and domestiques, there is one fabled rider-type who owns the race on the right day.
He is the sprinter-who-can-climb, and in this year’s Vuelta Espana Italian Matteo Trentin is the shining example of the genre.
The defining feature of Stage 10 was a climb up to around 1200 metres of altitude, which peaked with twenty-odd kilometres to go. With Trentin clear of the main field in a break containing three others, he was relishing his role as the sprinter-who-can-climb.
AKA the man that no-one wants to take to the finish.
In other words, if you can’t drop him on the descent or the run to the final kilometre, he will out-sprint you for the win. Easily. Guaranteed.
No questions asked.
The sprinter-who-can-climb can, on a good day, scale mountains with those who specialise in mountains. It doesn’t work both ways. A climber-who-can-sprint is not going to beat Trentin when the finish line is in view.
Them’s the rules.
The laws of physics are to blame.Embed from Getty Images
Trentin’s win, for team Quick-Step Floors, from the day’s breakaway, also confirmed what we learnt on Stage 8; that La Vuelta is the break-iest of all the Grand Tours, and that Quick-Step are the winning-est team in pro cycling.
That’s four stage wins so far at this year’s race. From ten stages. Even my rudimentary maths tells me that’s a 40% strike rate.
“How do you see your career progressing in the coming years Matteo?” asked TV’s Daniel Friebe after the podium celebrations.
“Like this is fine,” Trentin replied, with a toothy smile.
With good legs, on a medium mountain stage, in a Grand Tour, life is sweet for the sprinter-who-can-climb.