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Notes From the Spain Desk

There's only one Grand Tour remaining, and we've got a desk for it.

Bryn Lennon

The Beckett play "Waiting for Godot" has to be one of the most overrated underrated pieces of theater in modern times, no? I mean, it's completely overrated because pop culture can't stop referencing the play's title, for everything from people waiting to die to someone waiting for a sandwich they just ordered, with little reflection on anything worth reflecting on. And yet it's underrated, because for every 5,000 people who know and make lame jokes from the title, there may be one or two people who've seen it and appreciate the actual work. And finally, it's a little overrated because I'm not really sure there's a Freudian or religious interpretation that works; maybe it's just meant to be absurd.

Anyway, nothing replicates the experience of Waiting for Godot like waiting for Nairo. By which I mean, waiting for the Colombian star to return home to what promises to be an adoring welcome, to say the least. It hasn't happened yet, in part because he's been hijacked by the Belgian criterium racket, where he's in the process of raising his country's GDP by a tick or two, and in part I assume because he's a kid and when you're a kid working overseas for a European cycling team, you don't go home til after Lombardia. For anything.

We shall see. But in the meantime, I get to enjoy my own bit of absurdism, as I hit refresh on El Tiempo, the Bogota daily. There, while Waiting for Nairo, I can learn about so many topics which say so much about humanity. There's the kid who tried smuggling his pet turtle in a hamburger (that one was from China). There are three crackdown stories, on marijuana, cocaine and goats. Apparently someone has lost another lawsuit to Shakira. Also, monogamy might have some impact on women's sexual health. Not sure whether that's my monogamy or hers, but in either case, please don't tell my wife. Hurry up Nairo! [And no, I won't be hanging myself.]

  • As you probably know, Rigoberto Uran has confirmed his departure from Sky, to become the latest victim of Patrick Lefevre's occasional crush on the Tour de France's general classification. Uran finished second in the Giro this year, of course, and with about as much support as he can expect from a classics team (some, sometimes very, very good, but not so much when the road goes up). This is one of those deals where everybody wins. Chris Froome doesn't have to look over his shoulder or wonder what portion of the team belongs to him. Uran gets his shot, a good salary (I'd guess), the help of a team that will fucking kill it on the Tour's flat stages, and Tom Boonen's IM address. The rest of us will get to speculate on Sky's eventual demise, collapsing under the weight of its own awesomeness, at least until they sign Quintana.
  • Oh, and Mark Renshaw to OPQS too. Cav needs more help. Kittel has served notice. You do start to wonder, so what's that Tour startlist looking like? Uran, Cav, Renshaw, Chavanel, Terpstra, Steegmans, Tony Martin... Does Uran get any help in the mountains? Lefevre probably isn't done yet.
  • Uran, meanwhile, is pairing up with Sergio Henao (whose name gnomes into Hainault from Spanish to English, because Hainault is so English) to attack the Vuelta, starting in three weeks. If you haven't ogled the stage list recently, go here. Yep, that's 13 mountain stages. Of course, that's slightly exaggerated, only 10 or so have uphill finishes. Possibly my favorite thing about this year's race is that I will only miss the first week. My least favorite thing is that with ASO buying the Vuelta and Prudhomme shamelessly stealing from Acquarone, this year's first week of the Vuelta will be Giro-level fun.
  • Oh, and the startlist is taking shape. Some highlights: Betancur and Pozzovivo again. Nibali with his full lineup of helpers. Belkin with Cruise Ship, Mollema and ten Dam. Euskaltel will throw everything they have into this. Pinot, Dan Martin, J-Rod. Cancellara back, as is Ballan. Amets Txurruka continuing his Fuck You Euskaltel Tour. Really, save some energy during these quiet days. September is gonna be great.
  • Speaking of fun, is anyone at Saxo-Tinkoff having any? Probably not. Oleg Tinkoff's reaction to Alberto Contador saying he was too tired to show up for the Vuelta: "He is not too tired to receive a huge payroll at the end of the month." No he isn't, Oleg. No he isn't. Tinkoff suspects Contador has lost the hunger. Presumably since his suspension. For eating a steak. Seriously, this stuff just writes itself. Still, Tinkoff can take a lesson from other savvier sponsors who don't pull the plug until after Lombardia. Tinkoff's abandonment in a fit of pique after a poor Tour de France left him with little influence on anything BUT the team's paychecks. He's retained the right to be an asshole on Twitter, but most of us can gain that right for free.
  • On a more sombre note, there doesn't seem to be any hope for Euskaltel-Euskadi as a continuing enterprise, joining Vacansoleil as World Tour squads on the winter's chopping block. The Basque Government has pulled out, and last Saturday, while riders were getting ready for the Clasica San Sebastian, an official from Euskaltel came on the bus and told the riders that there was no new sponsor on the horizon. Whoever keeps their Spanish wikipedia site has already listed them as dissolved (I know, that's SOOOO definitive). Anyway, they have until next month before it becomes official from the UCI's point of view, so hope hasn't died.
  • Transfer season is upon us! CyclingNews has a rumor-dump post, which is better than nothing I suppose. Anyone got time to put up something better here? Almost anything would be better.

And with that, I shall now go camping. Happy weekend!