We could do with some kind of wacky moustache notification system. Surely the big tech companies can solve this for us. Because how else are the fans supposed to identify our favourite cyclists following the growth of a daft ‘tache?
Sure, you might say I should have spotted Remi Cavagna’s facial growth before today, but I didn’t. And so when he galloped away off the front of the race with ten kilometres to go I was clueless.
“Some Quickstep lad,” I thought, “but who is that strong, and that recklessly bold, but also in possession of some truly terrible facial hair?”
I fed it through the part of my brain responsible for identifying cyclists (a part which is, after a full-on few weeks of this time-crunched season, admittedly pretty tired), and came up blank.
Huh!?Embed from Getty Images
Apple, Google, Huawei…if you’re listening, we need tiny top lip sensors please, which will notify us of growth and provide a digital photofit rendering of the offending cyclist, to allow accurate ID. I know you’re busy with AI and machine learning and all that, but this is important.
Away from Cavagna’s face, I should report, there was also bike race on the go.
And it was a tough one.
Your first glance of today’s route profile may had led you to expect a standard issue sprint stage, but this, in Cantabria, is the Atlantic coast. Maybe you’ve walked (or even ridden) such terrain? If so, you’ll know it is constantly either up, or down, and your knees will tell you all about it in the evening.
A tough ol’ day on the push iron.
Still, some sprinters were being talked about for the win. The tough final kilometre might just be sprintable for the likes of Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann. Alas, Bennett went out the back with over thirty kilometres to go. Fighting agonisingly, sweating profusely, and looking frankly unwell, this was not his day.
We wait to see whether this was a single bad day or something more terminal for the rest of the race.Embed from Getty Images
Ackermann, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen at the finish in the town of Suances. Guillaume Martin and Richard Carapaz were making the moves – climbers, and GC men – rather than sprinters. Cavagna’s hairy escape long since shut down. And then Primoz Roglic appeared; the reigning Vuelta champion looking thoroughly regal, mightily strong, and barely out of breath.
For a man who had his heart well and truly broken by Tadej Pogacar at the Tour de France this year, he looks firmly in possession of both his mojo and the fabled ‘good legs’. His win, and small time gain, drew him level overall with Carapaz and into the Red Jersey based on superior stage finish positions.
Right now, the only thing that could spoil the dominant sight of the Slovenian would be a confusing charity moustache a la Cavagna. And as we know, the tech giants are on that for us.
For the weekend, and Stages 11 and 12, we have two days of brutal mountains which culminate with the appalling slopes of the Alto de l’Angliru. Right now Primoz Roglic is definitely looking like The Man.
Forty-eight hours from now we will know for sure.
(Top Image: Konstantin Kleine, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)