Froome Conquers Vuelta but not the British Public

As Chris Froome secured his fifth Grand Tour victory yesterday, and only the third man in cycling history to achieve the Tour/Vuelta double in the same year, he could be forgiven for looking on enviously at his rival, Alberto Contador. The Spaniard riding his last race may not have even made the podium but the Spanish public’s love and adoration for him could not be denied.

It seems that whatever Froome manages to do, and his success to date has been astounding even compared to cycling greats like Merckx, Hinault and Anquetil, the British press and public remain underwhelmed. What should have been front page news was relegated to today’s Sports pages, and even then, was deemed by many editors to fall below the importance of the news that Crystal Palace have sacked their manager.

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Pro Cycling: What's The Future?

This year’s Vuelta has been one of the most entertaining for years: the red jersey was passed round the peloton like a hot potato in the first few days, some of the uphill finishes have been both fascinating and torturous to watch and we’ve seen the breakaway win through on half a dozen occasions. While the spectators have been enthralled, it’s no secret that there’s been some grumbling from the riders about the tough parcours being set. And with two of the teams taking part, folding at the end of the season, there are some serious questions being asked about the future and sustainability of pro cycling.

Take a look at IAM for instance. The Swiss team was set up in 2013  as a Professional Continental level team and moved up to the world tour in 2015 having raced as a wild card in the 2014 Tour de France. Michael Thétaz, the team’s owner, announced in May that they had failed to secure a sponsor signalling the end of a ‘beautiful adventure.’ Having reached the top flight of the World Tour the only way they could have continued as a team was to take a step down back to Continental level. IAM will no longer exist at the end of this season.

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La Vuelta a España - past and present

As La Vuelta a España rolled out yesterday for its 71st edition with a 27.8 km time trial, don’t be fooled into thinking that this Grand Tour is inferior to either the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia. Often relegated to a status as the third best, expect thrills, great bike racing and massive climbs that will test the mettle of the best riders in the world.

Despite being the youngest of the grand tours, La Vuelta is still a ‘Grand Tour’ with a fascinating history and heritage to rival France’s and Italy’s stories of heroism and romance. It’s produced some wonderful bike racing, rivalries and upsets that began 80 years ago and continue into the modern age of professional cycling.

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