It’s a niche area of interest, admittedly, but I could happily spend an afternoon watching Tim Wellens ride his bike. Ideally from side-on. With that flat backed, long-limbed style, and a fluid pedal stroke, he is a picture of powerful efficiency.
I count myself fortunate to feel this way.
In these times of overlapping Grand Tours, and having earlier leapt up and down in front of the telly at the sight of Tao Geoghegan-Hart, in the Giro d’Italia, arm wrestle Jai Hindley to the summit at Sestriere, Stage 5 of the Vuelta was going to have to come up with something awfully diverting to compete.
Tim Wellens in the breakaway, while not offering the tension and excitement of the Giro, was enough.Embed from Getty Images
On a hilly, if not mountainous day, up in north-eastern Spain and on the fringes of the Pyrenees, the peloton took things relatively easily. Content, perhaps, to imagine the sight of Wellens, stylish, and away up the road, to help them pass the kilometres.
Cresting the final climb with fifteen kilometres to go our three leaders had a fast glide towards the town of Sabinanigo and a steep ramp of a finish to the line. Wellens found himself in the company of Guillaume Martin and young Dutchman Thyman Arensman.
Martin, the likeable and professorial French climber and Arensman…well, fuck knows!? I suppose this is yet another precocious youngster I need to learn about in this year of precocious youngsters. I am seriously starting to wonder whether processing all these new cyclists is pushing older, useful information out of my brain to make space.
Like, I could’ve sworn I used to be able to speak French, but now: ppffsshhhtt! Je ne suis plus si sûr.
So. Wellens will be strong, and wily, and will power up that final climb like the thoroughbred classics man that he is. Martin will give it a good old go, but will probably fall short on account of the climb being puncheur rather than grimpeur territory.
(Hmm, maybe the French is still there after all!?)
Which leaves Arensman to do whatever his thing is. Go on, 2020…surprise me. He’s going to attack from three kilomtres out, ride the climb no-handed, and win the stage by a minute, right?
Wellens distracted the pair of them through town with his silky style before outlasting them on the climb for a muscular win. Reassuring, in a way, that sometimes the tried and trusted, time-honoured wisdom we gather about our cyclists turns out to be true.Embed from Getty Images
Thyman Arensman, whoever you are, your time will probably come. Let us enjoy the older guys for a while first, eh?
As for the peloton? Primoz Roglic muscled his way up that finishing slope in what could only be viewed as a visible, dominant message to everyone else in the race that: “I am the strongest, I’m also still pissed off about the Tour, and there’s not really much point in you all being here, to be honest.”
We will see.
Because we’ve been here before, Primoz me ol’ mate.
(Top Image: Marianne Casamance, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)