David Millar proved a man of his word today in Toledo. He said he was aiming to win the time trial in this penultimate stage of the Vuelta and that's just what he did, setting a fast early time over the the 27.8Km course that was never bettered.
It was a good day too for the Australian Cadel Evans, whose barnstorming TT ride turned a 14 second deficit on Ivan Basso into a 40 second advantage over the Italian, in the process bumping him down into fourth place. However, the man with probably the biggest smile on his face as the race heads for the final stage in Madrid tomorrow is Alejandro Valverde. The Caisse D'Epargne rider did enough to cement his hold on the golden jersey and barring some act of the gods he will stand on the top step of the podium tomorrow.
Winning the Vuelta will be the crowning achievement of an impressive season for the Spaniard and will leave the UCI with something of a headache should it decide to make the ban imposed on him by the Italian cycling federation worldwide and do so retrospectively… at this rate he will probably win the world championship too, just to make things really interesting.
However, although the race may belong to Valverde the day was Millar's. The Briton put in a superb effort to give a textbook demonstration of how to win a grand tour time trial – at no point were his times bettered by any of the riders that followed including the big name favourites. Millar's winning margin was a healthy 5 seconds over Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel with Cadel Evans a further 4 seconds back in third place. Millar's win was another milestone in an impressive summer for his Garmin Slipstream team who have made real progress as a force at the top level, a fact which may continue to exert a pull on his team mate Bradley Wiggins.
Top 20 Vuelta Stage 20
1) David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) 0:35:53 2) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:00:05 3) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 0:00:09 4) Gustavo César Veloso (Xacobeo Galicia) 0:00:20 5) Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) 0:00:30 6) Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) 0:00:34 7) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 0:00:36 8) David Herrero (Xacobeo Galicia) 0:00:37 9) Jesús Del Nero (Fuji-Servetto) 0:00:40 10) Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) 0:00:43 11) Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas) 0:00:44 12) Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) 0:00:49 13) Fredrik Kessiakoff (Fuji-Servetto) 0:00:55 14) Frantisek Rabon (Columbia-HTC) 0:00:56 15) Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) 0:01:01 16) Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank) 0:01:02 17) Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) 0:01:03 18) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 19) Dominik Roels (Milram) 0:01:16 20) Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) 0:01:23
Top 10 on General Classification after Stage 20
1) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 84:10:32 2) Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:00:55 3) Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) 0:01:32 4) Ivan Basso (Liquigas) 0:02:12 5) Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) 0:04:27 6) Robert Gesink (Rabobank) 0:06:40 7) Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) 0:09:08 8) Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-NGC) 0:09:11 9) Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam) 0:11:08 10) Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto) 0:11:27
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.