Upon the commencement of La Vuelta España, it seemed Chris Froome seemed to be in prime position to claim his maiden victory, and ultimately complete the Tour-Vuelta double. Yet, considering the event seems to be amongst the most recognised and established on the entirety of the tour, there seemed to be multiple proficient riders who, similarly to Froome, had competed in multiple Vuelta and other tournaments at the pinnacle, and thus may have been motivated to attain the title for themselves. It was indeed Froome who attained the victory however, adding to his Tour de France glories and, whilst the latter victory may have led to increased recognition, his achievements in Spain may superiorly impact Froome, as he may have proven he possesses the ability to achieve across a smorgasbord of events.
With the event enabling riders to compete across the Spanish mountains, it seems to provide an opportunity for racers to compete on a challenging terrain, and this may be a contributing factor in elevating the status of the event, with riders required to showcase a wide breadth of skills in order to attain a high position. The organisers seem to have played an integral part in this, as after extending the event’s stages as the race grew in popularity, they may have secured its position at the pinnacle of the cycling world. Yet, it may also be poignant to highlight the position of the race on the calendar as, whilst the Tour de France may be held in superior regard, the Vuelta is the final race of the 2017 season, perhaps enabling both riders to utilise previous race experience to create competitive encounters, whilst also providing a memorable conclusion to the season.
With this year’s edition the 72nd Vuelta, multiple riders have attained victory in Spain, and as such there seemed to be a wide breadth of achievements which competitors may have been able to replicate. Although the route is altered each year, therefore leading to adaptability becoming an increasingly pivotal trait, the format remains the same, with two time-trials involved, and this may have been the factor which placed Froome in superior stead; with a bronze medal in the time trial at London 2012, he seemed to possess the necessary experience in this area, and therefore this may have been the catalyst in his victory.
With Froome winning the event for the first time in his career, an achievement occurring after three second-place finishes, he seems to have ensured he may gain increased exposure as a rider. Yet, whilst this may be a short-term benefit, he may have also long-term impacted the rest of his career, as in showcasing the benefits of hard work and dedication, he may have proven to himself he may continue to compete versus the most proficient riders in the world. With four yellow jerseys to his name, alongside Olympic glory, he seems to have become the sole British cycling influencer, and whilst victory in the Giro d’Italia may still provide him with goals to aim for, he may have already impacted his fellow British riders, inspiring them to achieve on a similar scale.
With multiple stage victors, the sport seems to have showcased the strength in depth it possesses, and with the event also being broadcast on television, it seems the foundations may be being laid for the event to be recognised, and supported, on a broader scale. With Froome the ultimate victor, and having achieved one of his overarching goals, he may aim to utilise this period via resting, in order to ensure he begins next season at his peak fitness. Yet, whilst Froome may claim the plaudits for his victory, as it may have drawn him closer to becoming the leader of the all-time rankings, it may be more poignant to focus on the benefits of the event itself, as the consistent renovations, coupled with the competitive nature of the course, may have been the reason why Froome continuously returned to strive for victory, and why future riders may do the same.
How may Froome utilise this victory to surpass Eddy Merckx at the top of the all-time rankings?