Wednesday, July 07, 2010

On Vino and Contador

“It was impressive, I’m happy that have won Vino, it’s as if I had won”, said Alberto Contador after congratulating at the finish line Alexander Vinokourov after his victory in Liege.

There's been some mumbling in the forums that Vino stabbed Alberto in the back yesterday during the Tour de France's pavé-laden third stage, and tried to drop him inside the last kilometer. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions, but that's one I don't share. No - Vino is simply the man. There have been several very plausible explanations tendered for what might have happened to result in Contador's being dropped-off the back of the Vino group in the final 500m, and I don't buy the claim that Vino attacked Alberto.

Vino is not, like Armstrong, a PsyOps warrior - and the only rider who would make an attack against his teammate - akin to throwing down the gauntlet and betraying his loyalties - when there was so little time to be gained is a rider like Armstrong. He would see the psychological value in stealing a few seconds from 'Berto while really trying to make him feel abandoned and alone - in hopes of shaking his confidence or weakening his resolve (even though we know that Contador is stronger than that).

Vino is like the Tasmanian Devil - he just "goes" and goes and goes and goes. His attacks are flamboyant and either suicidal if they fail, or brilliant if he comes off with a win. A calculating attack against his teammate with 750m to go is totally not his style - and that alone tells me that he didn't intend to gap Contador, and if he did push on to the line thinking that AC would get the same time as a result of a mechanical having happened inside the final 3km, when that really wasn't the case, it's a fog of war issue, plain and simple.

Plus, the claim that Vino flicked Contador totally ignores the epic amount of work he did on behalf of the Spaniard to guide him over the cobbles when the race was imploding.

Nahhh, leave Vino alone - don't pull a Phinney on him. Vino is no Lance (Thankfully) - and ex-Soviets of Vino's generation don't go for that petty bullshit, sneak-attack-in-the-final-1km ruse - no, they just whip out a knife and slit your throat and are done with it.

Trust me, I know from experience!

The only time I've ever been ejected from a race and arrested afterward came during the UCI's Vuelta a Chile, when one of Vino's future-teammates and I came to blows after a stage (at the finish line, broadcast live on TV) and were hauled off by the coppers. Classic stuff. But those Kazakhs aren't subtle bastards - they fight like hell and aren't concerned with mind-games.

Just my two cents. Oh, and here's the rest of that post-Liege quote from Contador:

“It was impressive, I’m happy that have won Vino, it’s as if I had won”, said Alberto Contador after congratulating at the finish line Alexander Vinokourov after his victory in Liege.

“It was the result of the team work and I’m very happy”, he continued. “We had talked before the start we played with two options, mine went through attack at St. Nicholas or the Roche aux Faucons. There I started a little late, I got go with Andy Schleck, but we have been taken and when Vino is gone, I tried to make the maximum braking, especially with the Schleck brothers and Joaquim Rodriguez”.

“I’ve seen that Vino was very strong and had very touched listening how they cheered him on the radio. When I heard that he has won, I’ve been very happy”, he said. Contador also congratulated the team for their work. “We have been very compenetrated [sic]. We had two good chances of winning and when Vino goes ahead it was clear to me: I had to do what Saxo Bank did with Andy Schleck last year. The result was perfect”.

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