And with less than twenty kilometres to go King – an unheralded twenty-nine-year-old pro – became the “virtual” leader of the Vuelta Espana. For a moment that won’t, in two-and-a-half-weeks time, even attain the status of footnote, it was unreasonably exciting.
Anything could still happen, of course. Yates could have a bad day, or crash, or get sucked in and swallowed up by the sheer force of one of Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby’s swirling psychedelic analogies. But, more likely, he could get all the way to Rome and win the thing.