Mongo was chatting with his buddy, "Boonen", today about the impending downfall of Mellow Johnny, the large number of rider transfers and team changes, and the probable dissolution of RadioShack more sooner than later, and it got me thinking about how I view Pro Cycling. This is a "three blue-book" question, so I'll narrow my focus to something that bothered me about the podium at this year's Vuelta a Espana.
I am extremely skeptical of "out of the ordinary" performances. I am even more skeptical of these performances by older cyclists...especially if they have no track record of success...I give to you Ezequiel Mosquera.
While the winner and third place finisher in the race, Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Velits, are both 25 years old, runner up, Mosquera, is 35. Velits was the U23 World Road Champion in 2007, and has ridden for a Pro Tour team since 2008, and Nibali's credentials are that of a superstar in the making. Mosquera, on the other hand, has "never" ridden for a Pro Tour team in his entire career...and he finishes second in a Grand Tour?!
What is even more interesting is that even though he's never won anything, anywhere, he seems to be Xacobeo-Galicia's "go-to guy" when it comes to the Vuelta. In the past four years, since joining the team, he has finished 2nd, 5th, 4th, and 5th. That's pretty impressive for anyone, let alone a cyclist on a Continental team who never rides much outside of Spain.
Oh, that's right, he's Spanish!...and the Spanish have a cycling inferiority complex when it comes to the Italians and the French...so they have always been more prone to "look the other way" and encourage improbable, strong performances by one of their own in their own race.