Um — let’s be honest here: I’ve never really followed the Vuelta a Espana, the last of this year’s grand tours. The reason is simple: The Tour de France has become so popular it’s practically right on our doorstep; the reason for that being, of course, it’s the grandest of the grand tours and, more important, Americans have put their stamp on it over the past 20-some years. (The Giro d’Italia is also something of a mystery to me. It’s not easily accessible on TV and I guess I’ve never been that motivated to go find stuff on it).
Anyway, the Vuelta starts Saturday. As one news story notes, the race is in the same fix as the Tour and Giro in that it starts with no defending champion. Last year’s winner, Alexander Vinokourov, is currently out of racing after being accused of taking illegal blood transfusions during the Tour in July. (But don’t worry! Another story says that the Vuelta will be run under strict new doping controls. If true, that ought to make the race entertaining in an unintended way as we wait for daily news about the latest chemical infractions.)
Anyway: For the sake of world peace, the future of democracy, and a defensible posterity, let’s all hope for a clean race. And if you want to heighten your rooting interest, here’s a place — Velogames — where you can put together your own fantasy Vuelta team. Sounds exciting and fun, doesn ‘t it? I put together a team, and knowing my general all around knowledge, probably every single rider I’ve chosen will abandon, crash out, or get disqualified for substance abuse by the end.