In Spain yesterday, the Vuelta a España concluded with Spanish rider Alberto Contador claiming the top of the podium. Sunday’s ride was mostly ceremonial, as the race was all wrapped up, as the peloton turned toward Madrid, and the finish line. Second place went to American Levi Leipheimer, with Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre claiming third.
With this win, Contador has become cycling’s brightest star. He has now won all three of the sports Grand Tours, having knocked off the Tour last year and winning the Giro d’Italia in May, all the more remarkable because his team wasn’t invited to the event until just 8 days before it started. He becomes just the fifth person in history to win all three Grand Tours over the course of their careers, joining the likes of Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, all of whom are considered legends of cycling.
As if this amazing success wasn’t impressive enough, Contador has yet to celebrate his 26th birthday, meaning he’s likely to leave his mark on the sport over the next ten years or more. He’s already proven to be a remarkable athlete and tough competitor, but he probably hasn’t entered his prime yet, meaning that he should be the favorite in these Tours for some years to come.
This sets up a remarkable showdown with Lance Armstrong next year at the Tour. We should learn more about Lance’s comeback later this week, but fans of the sport can’t help but to look ahead towards next year. This should be a colossal match-up, with the King of the Tour facing off with the best young rider in a generation. Should make for remarkable drama. The question will be if Lance has enough in the tank to shake off three years in retirement to compete with a rider more than ten years his junior.
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