Today's stage of the Vuelta a Espana follows nicely in line with the incredible racing we've witnessed on the road this year. Alexandre Vinokourov's dramatic, shocking capture of the gold jersey on the final descent was a little bit of Paris-Roubaix drama, a little bit of Floyd Landis trickery, and a big dose of Kazakh revenge all in one.
Sure, only an idiot would have said the race was over before today, but with a long descent at the end, the stage didn't have the look of a killer. But Vinokourov knows what he can and can't do... he can't seem to shake Alejandro Valverde on long climbs, but he can descend like a madman and power across the flats, and today of the three mountain stages this week gave him his best opportunity for glory. You could say he took it, eh?
Vinokourov can also ride a time trial, and though stage 20 is a short one, his nine second lead is actually only a portion of the advantage he holds. Valverde, meanwhile, will be marked closely tomorrow, and will need to win by at least 30 seconds to have hope. Too bad, I love watching him, and Valverde rode like a champion today, but there was nothing he could do to reel in the Free Man.