Second place after crash-filled season is a fine achievement
We’re not getting on the top step of the podium much this season. Crashes, resulting injuries and plain old bad luck have all conspired against British riders this year.
After serious falls in the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France, I admit a sense of relief that Chris Froome made it through the Vuelta unscathed.
Second place overall wasn’t a bad achievement either, especially after his lacklustre performance in the first half of the race. He was pinning his hopes on a third-week resurgence, which duly kicked in, and enabled him to outpace everyone except Alberto Contador.
The fact that the Spanish named him the most aggressive rider of the race, beating the exploits of Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodríguez, is due recognition.
Now, with four top-two placings in Grand Tours, the Sky leader is undoubtedly our best ever stage race rider and he’s achieved it all in just four seasons. If he can push Contador this close while riding into form, then he should have no trouble matching him, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana in next year’s Tour de France.
Unfortunately, Mark Cavendish is still crashing. Just like Harrogate at the beginning of the Tour, the would-be world’s fastest sprinter hit the ground on the first stage of the Tour of Britain and we were denied a proper head-to-head with Marcel Kittel until the finale in London on Sunday afternoon.
Cav can take some consolation in running the German close after a difficult week but it’s still going to be a season he’ll want to forget.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly