Olives, rocks, and living dead. Contador fried himself in an Andalusian furnace

The mercury mercury climbs to 37 degrees. Vuelta is sweating in Andalusia. As the famed Fabian Cancellara , three years ago, there are regular “bikers on the grid” on the menu. At that time, the Swiss managed to lose 4.5 pounds in a single Andalusian stage, and then, in spasms and dry body, he threw himself into the hotel kitchen and drank all the salt.

The Spanish Grand Tour is a comprehensive horseradish test. But it is not only the countless hills spread along its route, but also the heat in the south of the country combined with the thin air over 2,000 meters.

It is said that whoever did not experience Vuelta in Andalusia does not really know it.

Two other colleagues from the Sunweb team were whacking last Saturday with the intestinal virus.And the same virus to which the heat burns, the Dimension Data team has faded from nine to just three riders.

“Drink, drink, eat,” as a wheelbarrow, the sports directors call their cyclist. “We are preparing 150 tickets on stage,” Oriky mechanics report on Sunday Night at the team bus. That’s sixteen bucks for each of the team’s nine drivers.

What about half an hour you should drink one, but rather more, is paid in the hot Spanish south. From the moment you start to feel thirsty, you’re losing 11 percent of your power.

Coalition with Nibali? Why not?

The strong legs are badly needed here.Especially this year, when Vuelta in Andalusia serves two weekends for extremists: two stages culminating in mountain bonuses of extraordinary category. Now it’s not enough just to fill the water regularly, you have to calculate where your edge lies.

“Whoever sank in red on a Saturday, he will pay for it a day later”, he justified his own defensive Saturday tactics leader > Chris Froome.

Sunday, the fifteenth event of the plant begins in the green-brown empire of the province of Jaén where 66 percent of olive trees grow to twenty percent of the world’s olive reserves.

where the peloton is heading.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains. Three bonuses and the last one, target Alto Hoya de la Mora up to 2,510 meters, on the roof of this year’s edition.”

” If we want to change the character of this Vuelta, we need to isolate Frooma from his team and jump “, plans ahead of Vincenzo Nibali, > Bahrain Merida.

After Saturday, the Italian came close to Brit for 55 seconds and is determined to lose even more. Which would be an ally. One who has strong legs and crazy likes to attack.

So Alberto Contador.

“Coalition with Nibali?Why not? “The Spaniard replies before the stage.

While the rules aliance across the stables prohibit, but who can prove to you that you did not have an independent, but shared interests?

Eventually both attack,

Frooma and his team in the Sierra Nevada hills test, check, force the dirt…to make the inventory duo’s plans completely fail.

No, Sky does not panic.Sky also plays this part in the numerical predominance.

Continuing the eighth Contador goes forward 26 kilometers ahead of the Monachil climb, side by side with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopes, the new Superman of the Astana team (read his profile HERE)

“Just hold fast, do not shake it,” he instructs his riders Nicolas Portal, Sky Sports Director.

Later, Portal explains, “The key was to not bleed ourselves. We were not afraid of the lottery, we went for the stage. It was mainly about Albert.But we believed they would pay for their efforts. “There are two first-category bonuses in their feet when the four Sky riders are introducing a large group of favorites at Alto Hoya de la Mora, headed by Salvatore Pucci and Giannim Moscon.

Now comes Nibali’s part. Twelve kilometers later than Contador, he also drives. Alone. And it will be just a short intermezzo.

It rotates. Someone in the party? Does anyone come with me?

No one. Demand (Nibali) exceeds the offer.

“In a climb like this, it was difficult to attack because the tempo was high and it was not a steeply steep hill,” says Italian after the stage. “I was hoping somebody would join me, but I soon realized that no one would do it.” “To go alone against three of Froom’s men?It does not make sense, the climb is still too long, she thinks. After a three-kilometer effort, he will be humbled again by those who have not lost sight of him all the time.

The Contador’s group, which has also been added by Romain Bardet and Steven Kruijswijk , is constantly good for a mere one and a half minutes.

But the former Grand Tour champion can only recall the twists he once had been able to do on his exciting performance at Fuente Dé in 2012,

Today? Lopes goes to Contador and hurries not only to Adam Yates, the last of the original group of refugees, but also to the next stage first.If Contador could keep him…if…no, if he did not play.

Three kilometers before the finish, the Spaniard will meet the Sky Command. Almost at the same time when Dmitry Konysev , the sports director of Katyusha stables, instructs Ilnur Zakarin: “Now attack.”

he argued: “Because of the wind we waited with the attack to the last possible moment. Then I saw that Froome had only Wouta Poelse and I sent Ilnur forward. “However, Zakarin will also say:” The timing of my attack was perfect. I know the climb here.It was clear to me that a high altitude could cause problems for many riders. ”

After the winning Lopes, he wins for second in stage and third overall, although Wilco Kelderman is trying his way to defend the heart. Chris Froome is also coming to Estéban Chaves, six seconds behind Vincenzo Nibali.

WE STILL WE HAVE CONTROLLED. Chris Froome can unravel another stage in the red.

Alberto Contador lasts a mile from the last and loses Froom’s forty seconds. “I knew my early attack was a risk, but I had to be courageous. It was the only option today, “says Trek team leader. “So I’m just racing. I do not hate what I did.I would not feel good if I just wore a group. ”

Many others look worse than he after a hot, exhausting day. “The process of walking corpses,” rightfully sums up the consequences of Sierra Nevada, the Irish rider Nicolas Roche, , who lagged for sixteen minutes and buried his dream of Top 10.

Froome shines directly: “It was a day of huge attacks. And I have to surrender my surrender to my colleagues. They were all checked. ”

With some exaggeration, we could say that the red jersey owner was safely delivered to his target by his helpers.

” I feel incredibly.If I had anyone say that I’m in this situation before the second free day, I’d took it, “she says.

Arriving by bicycle to the athletic hall for a press conference, resting it on the pole, and explains:” This was an extremely hard block stage. Everyone is now at the limit, everybody has put all the energy left to him today. Nobody left with nothing. ”

Answers questions, he is leaving, but still leans toward the microphone and by itself adds:” It is a real privilege and an honor to be in the team with the guys we have here to Vuelta. Today they showed their strength again as they went when the attacks came. It was textbook cycling from them.Hat down. ”

A general who can motivate and praise his own army.

Once again, he climbs the bike and walks into the parking lot. Six buses are waiting for the riders to take to the airport in Granada, from where they go to Navarra in the north of the country tonight.

Vuelta leaves the furnace in Andalusia.

Froome is leaving north with a lead of 1:01 minutes. “We’re still concentrating on Nibali, the second in the overall ranking. But if Lopes continues in the same spirit as before, we will have to focus on him, “he outlines the strategy.

Before that, everyone has a free day.

“I’m going to sleep.”Froome is going to sleep all day,” Froome said.

The 40-kilometer flat timer in Logrona, according to expert estimates, will double its lead if not tripled. , “Says Nibali. “It’s hard to imagine what’s going to happen in the third week, but…”

It will not do.

Perhaps it should say: crisis, unexpected events.

…but it is almost impossible to imagine that Chris Froome would be deposed from his sovereign position.

The last week of Vuelty 2017 begins – and Albert Contador’s career, assuring: “I want to enjoy it mainly.”

Believe it will not be enough.