If you were in the market for a breakaway stage win at a Grand Tour you’d pick the Vuelta Espana.
It’s an opportunist’s race, and the most breakaway friendly of the three; the Giro being bat-shit crazy from start to finish, and le Tour being too big and too important for anyone to leave anything to chance.
After a season of spats and squabbles, and recalled to the Cofidis Grand Tour squad, the reappearance of Bouhanni somewhere near the spotlight demanded that the fighting analogies were dusted off and wheeled out for a proper airing in the Andalusian sun.
There’s that near-bald pate masquerading as a head of hair, the consistently high quality of the gunslinger stubble, and the, ahem…history. You know the one. It’s the same history that many pro cyclists from the early noughties have to reckon with. Only in Valverde’s case it’s largely un-acknowledged.
In my experience, admittedly twenty years ago, a place like Malaga is teeming with any number of scenarios poised and ready to compromise athletic performance. Thankfully most of the riders appeared at the start line bright eyed, bushy tailed, and unsullied by the underbelly of Spanish resort life.