The La Vuelta a Espana has come and gone, but some indelible memories deserve reflecting on. We know it's hard to keep up to speed with it all, as the race gets broadcast live worldwide. To fill you in on what you missed, BikeRoar have put together our Top 10 Moments of the 2013 edition of the race. It's as good as having been there!
1. TTT Domination
Last to start, and first to arrive. Team Astana put on a dominant show for holiday makers in the Vilanova De Arousa region on stage one. The windswept course took a turn for the worst, with strong tailwinds making it harder for teams to gain a winning edge. Team Astana however, churned through the 27.4km course in record time - putting Slovenian Janez Brajkovic in the leader's jersey, and Team Astana on our list of favorite moments. Brajkovic za predsednika!
2. Luck of the Irish
We all love riders with panache, and Nicolas Roche delivered it in truckloads. When the Irishman joined a select group of breakaway riders, it seemed the group would ride to the finish together. We all assumed the usual 'cat and mouse' antics would start, as riders played Russian Roulette with their chances of stage victory. But it was Roche himself who had other ideas, attacking the small group with a few hundred meters remaining - he held them off all the way to the line, and grabbed stage honours. A well-earned win in our books!
3. Michael 'Bling' Matthews
It's about time something was mentioned about the Aussies, and this time it's none other than guided missile Matthews who stole the show, and stage 5 honors. The Orica GreenEdge cyclist was relieved to win his first Grand Tour stage, and could be a sign of things to come. 'Bling' was delivered to the line by his team with only 200m remaining, allowing him to power through and cement his win. This was followed up with an even more convincing win on the last stage, clearly distancing his closest rivals with a perfectly timed sprint. The astonishing thing is it comes after 3 weeks of racing, confirming Bling as a new kid on the block and a talent to watch in the future.
4. Continental Invasion
Stage 8 saw the big names raise an eyebrow, as Czech rider Leopold Konig sneakily took to the stage. The NetApp-Endura rider attacked in pursuit of the leading breakaway group. Once he made the gap, Konig took time to regain his composure, during which his new breakaway companions were caught by four more riders including Ivan Basso. Not one for crowds, Leopold decided to put it all on the line, and attacked with 1km to go, reeling in a fading Igor Anton. Passing the Basque rider with ease, Leopold Konig claimed an inspiring win on stage 8, as well as showing the bigger teams up at their own game.
5. Truth Be Told
On stage 11, everybody expected Fabian Cancellara to stretch his legs and claim the win in his preferred discipline of Time Trialling. He did. But he also let out some interesting news, that he may well be targeting the World Championships Road Race, as well as the Individual Time Trial. This could lead to some interesting racing when the time comes, having such a dominant team support one rider in his bid for multiple wins. Can he do it?
6. Going Long
The longest stage of the 2013 Vuelta A Espana stretched out for 224.9km. The average cyclist would take around 7 hours and pedal over 42,000 revolutions to complete this little sojourn, but the peloton charged through the hilly countryside in a little over six hours, with Frenchman Alexandre Geniez crossing the line first, 3 minutes ahead of his closest rival. What a stage to win!
7. Winning Words
Vincenzo Nibali was always confident he could win the overall title for the 2013 La Vuelta A Espana. Using the second rest day to catch up on some sleep, Nibali then told Gazzetta Dello Sport that he only "lost a few seconds, it's not the end of the world... Whatever happens, If I win or don't win the Vuelta... it's not over yet."
8. Old Dog, New Tricks
Chris Horner was the oldest rider in the 2013 Vuelta peloton. So much so, that he doubled the age of some of the youngsters. But 'Granddad Horner' had plenty of power in those legs, making Vincenzo Nibali reconsider what he said on the second rest day - "It's not over yet" he said. Horner obviously had bigger plans. On the famed Angliru Pass, the two big hitters ended up in a two man duel. After Nibali tried to land some hefty blows on Chris Horner, it was then Horner who turned the table and attacked and subsequently dropped his closest rival, and claiming some extremely valuable time as well.
9. Kenny in the House
From old dogs and new tricks, to young pups and impressive rides! The Vuelta's youngest rider Kenny Elissonde (22 years old) rode clear of the peloton on the Alto Del Angliru. He went on to claim the stage and finish 26 seconds ahead of the peloton's oldest rider, and eventual Tour Winner, Chris Horner.
10. Overall Grand Champion
After eleven summit finishes, 21 stages, 3,319km of tarmac and weather beyond common reason - it was Chris Horner of Leopard Trek that claimed the overall Tour win. Courtesy of some aggressive riding, and overall consistent performances, Chris Horner was able to stamp his authority on several stages. His hard work paid off, with a very big badge of honor in what could be his swan song in cycling. But don't even mention retirement. This "inexhaustible man" has more left in the tank!