LA VUELTA 2022 STAGE 9

La Vuelta reached its 9th stage on Sunday after Australian rider Jay Vine secured his second stage win of the race. Defending champ Primoz Roglic continued to lose ground after this stage, GC leader Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel adding almost a minute to his lead over the dangerous Slovenian who now lies in third. With a time trial coming up after Monday’s rest day, the week has started badly for Primoz. The stage was 171 km with 5 ramp climbs. The last ramp being the defining one so it was important for the GC riders to be within reach of the leading peloton by then.Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl , the team that rides for Remco rode a great race for him keeping pace with the breakaway. It was a feat for Samuele Battistella of Astana team to finish the race in second as he was complaining of lack of support from his team.

He would finish behind first time winner Louis Meintjes of South Africa. Louis climbed really well not letting up in the final climb. Before we get to him how about the L shaped descents on the 3 km to go mark. I for one would be tempted to ride through these sharp descents at the risk of a crash or two. I know this goes against what is normal for cycling which is breaking on descents to ease off the speed to get more control. Lesson one get close to the inner lane of the curve at the apex and go towards the outer lane when you straighten out. Anyway back to Louis, didn’t let up pace on that ramp, psychologically draining if you following him as you know there is little you can do. He didn’t finish eighth in the Tour De France by accident , clearly. The preparation for such a steep climb needs to include a whole nutrition schedule coupled with high altitude training. Louis being South African I bet my bottom rand practices in the Drankensbergs.

PREMIER LEAGUE:NOTTINGHAM VS TOTTENHAM

It’s taking 23 years to achieve it. Nottingham Forest, one of the traditional giants of English soccer are back in the majors. History isn’t on their side to side to stay there though. In the past 10 years, only half of the teams promoted from the Championship have stayed up the following season. Those aren’t very good odds and they get worse if you came up via the playoffs. So what swings the odds in your favor? Forest owners seem to think it’s spending on new players. What I saw against Spurs is a team that needs lots of time to gel especially the front players in the final third. The end product is not there yet. Spurs are more than content to absolve then hit on the counter , they have the personnel to do it. Getting used to see Kane and Son linking up on transition? Add Kulusevski to the mix you have title contenders to behold. I can’t believe how soft Kane’s goal was though. The England Captain didn’t catch it cleanly at all.Henderson for all his penalty saving heroics in this game was partially at fault for his positioning on goal.

Forest has gone for players with premier league experience, 19 players all in all have come in. The most impressive so far has been Nico Williams and he was great again today. His deliveries from the right back position were on point, pity there wasn’t any focal point to the Forest attack. As always, well that’s premier league for you, there was moment of controversy. The handball by McKenna on the line was only punished with a yellow card. For the why? Beats me. Steve Cook claimed a push by Kane which was ruled otherwise by VAR so it implied a deliberate handball by the Forest defender and it should be an automatic red card. As it were, no harm was done from the penalty spot to the home side. Kane’s second should make any die hard Forest fan seethe with anger. No hunger whatsoever to get to the second ball after great defending on the initial attack. Richarlison the provider. Another attacking dimension to an already dangerous Spurs team. It will take more time for Forest new boys to form a team. Steve Cooper has work to do.

LAVUELTA 2022 STAGE 7

A brave break away in the first 20km of the course, from Carmago to Cistierna, by six riders was enough to tactically outwit the rest of the peloton LEADING TO A STAGE WIN FOR Jesus Herrada. It was a good move seeing that an imposing 22km climb beckoned, a sizeable lead was necessary. The team effort from Trek team is commendable. But how do you get back into the race when you trailing? The answer is to make the most of the flatter course after the summit. Check out 63km of the race to go. Sam Bennett’s team, Bora, made sure to keep him in contention but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Let’s see. High winds on descent, check. Sunny weather with no chance of rain ,check. The last 40 km had the makings of a sprinters paradise. In the final kilometer of the race, it had the makings of a good finish with 5 riders up for the podium finish. If the see the clip, rider in red jersey, Sweeny had the chance to slip to the right of the LEADER ,close to the BARRIER. But he did not utilize. As a parting shot, good safety riding from the peloton which was trailing the breakaway on the curve with 27km to go. Perhaps the slow down was partly to do with the peloton leaders being content with the mountain points they have already.

LA VUELTA 2022 STAGE 4

The flat plains of the Netherlands gave way to the Basque region of Spain for stage 4 of this year’s La Vuelta. The first 3 stages were all about the sprinters with the time trial and non mountainous stage 2 and 3 won by Sam Bennett. The third and last of the cycling Grand Tour was 152 km from Vitoria-Gasteiz to La Guardia, 5 climbs to test the calf muscles and endurance. Defending Champ Primoz Roglic is on the other side of 30 in terms of age, so there was much doubt as to whether he can repeat the trick especially after a nasty crash at the Tour De France. He answered that in style beating Mans Pederson(Denmark) and Enric Mas(Spain) to lay the marker and seize overall control of the standings. Now, people may wonder if it is worth it to go for the polka dot jersey during the race. This is the jersey awarded to the guy who conquers the mountain stages, either going to the summit first or getting past certain points of the climb first.

There is psychological advantages to winning the intermediate mountain races as well as Primoz showed defending champ Alaphilippe with 15km to go, getting three bonus seconds to boot. Mountain racing is a team effort. Teammates need to help the leader get there by pulling the competing riders away as Mads Pederson’s Trek Segrafado teammate tried to in the final climb sprint. It’s all about timing and unfortunately, Trek did it late. Primoz was on them staying a wheel ahead as close to barrier as possible. Stage 5 will have more climbing to do for the riders. Well, Sam Bennett at least holds on to the Green , chances are he will too then.

PLAY OF THE WEEK

UFC 278 will live in memory as one of the WTF UFC events ever. Kamaru Usman looked invincible in his reign as UFC Welterweight champion. Three years as champ and going on 15 matches unbeaten. His opponent, Brit Leon Edwards was fighting him for the second time after losing to Kamaru 7 years ago. Clearly Leon learnt from the fight and coupled with Kamaru’s advancing age , this was in fact a golden time to win the title. Let’s face it Kamaru was on his way to a unanimous decision victory in this one. He was on top as far as takedowns and significant strikes are concerned. That is the thing that cost him actually. Thinking the match was won when the horn hadn’t sounded yet is a no no. Always be on guard and protect yourself. Kamaru failed to do so and it hurts , it was the last minute of the fight. Leon deserved credit for defending the takedowns well. Let’s have a look at the knockout blow. Kamaru seems to be focused enough then Leon goes for the punch. The left didn’t look to have connected all that well but it was enough to get Kamaru off his defensive posture creating an opening for the kick right in the face. That quick. It takes that much to lose a title. I am all for Kamaru and Edwards 3 at Wembley. Bruised ego aside, this was a good learning curve for Kamaru and other defending champs in MMA.