pro cycling

La Vuelta 2017 Stage 13: The next in line to the throne


This is not breaking news. I am not going out on a limb. Anyone with eyes in their head and a Eurosport subscription could have told you.

A star is born, and it’s name is Gianni Moscon.

Through 13 stages (and counting) of the 2017 Vuelta Espana, Moscon has been bodyguard to race favourite Chris Froome. Dressed in Sky black, with shades, the Mediterranean complexion, and a size and shape to dwarf his leader, Moscon plays the role beautifully.

Back in March, Moscon announced himself, going pedal for pedal with the big names at Paris-Roubaix, and finishing fifth at the most intimidating of all the one-day classics. He then let himself down; found guilty of racially abusing fellow rider Kevin Reza, he was banned by Team Sky.

Presumably to stew, and grow up, and learn his lesson.

At Roubaix, he was a fresh-faced twenty-two. Now, six months down the line, and slightly grizzled from two weeks of pure Vuelta, he has the furrowed brow and man-of-few-words body language of the enforcer.

It suits him.

And it suits Froome too.

As he grows into his face, and his job, Moscon looks more like the superstar pro-cyclist with every day the passes. Each day he protects Froome in the mountains, shepherds him on the flat, and leads him out through the flying elbows of a fast sprinters finish, his stature grows.

We are waiting to see what he cannot do.

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On stage 13, on scruffy roads through parched southern Spain, Froome finally let him off the leash. With three hundred and fifty metres to go of an undulating sprint controlled entirely by Quick-Step Floors, Froome radioed his man to say: “Off you go Gianni, I’m safe now, it’s all yours!”

To switch from loyal team man to clinical stage hunting sprinter when the race has already hit the finishing straight is an impossible task, really. A nice gesture from Froome, but what could Moscon realistically do from there?

Second place in the sprint, is what. Which considering that tomorrow he’ll be back to the day job as Froome’s mountain man, is fairly remarkable.

Also impressive, to neatly pop a cherry on Quick-Step’s perfectly crafted and professionally iced cake, was Matteo Trentin. Stage win number three for him, and number five in total for the Belgian super-team.

(As I said…the winning-est.)

In a sport that contains Peter Sagan as it’s beating heart, and Chris Froome as it’s head of State, Gianni Moscon might be the next cycling superhero in line to the throne.

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