A half hour is a long time in cycling

Tour of Catalunya: Stage 6, Tortosa to Reus

Dario Cataldo and Alessandro De Marchi finally get a move on and race for the line

How many seconds lead do two riders, having broken free of the bunch, actually need to guarantee a win? I mean after you factor in all that fannying around as they pass beneath the flame rouge, and stuff. Dario Cataldo and Alessandro De Marchi had 12 of them, but they seemed to need about half an hour.

The predictable cat-and-mouse would cost the two Italians at the line as the group behind them, specifically Daryl Impey and Alejandro Valverde, rallied, and almost with enough time to excuse themselves, flew past to claim first and second place.

Interestingly enough half an hour was about what they had over the second group, the one containing Chris Froome, who for some reason was riding in a kind of unofficial grupetto 27 minutes back. While that might have been enough time for Cataldo and De Marchi to sort themselves out, it raised other questions, such as when was the last time Chris Froome crossed the line after all the presentations had been made? (Giro 2009?)

Not that organisers hadn’t tried to drag things out.

Daryl Impey: only thinking what everyone else was thinking

With one eye on the clock (for the looming ten per cent cut off), and the other eye on footage showing the group ambling to the finish, organisers had no eyes left for the actual presentation. So they handed that over to two terrifying Paper Mache caricatures, giant figurines guaranteed to have Daryl Impey checking the hotel room closet tonight, and probably sleeping with the lights on.

Valverde followed to collect the leaders jersey, then the sprint leader arrived, and anyone else who had any claim at all on a new outfit. But with everything given away, including what appeared to be some bric-a-brac, there was still no Froome.

So where the hell was the world’s most exclusive, and highly paid, club ride?

Television footage showed exactly where. This second group (there was still another some way behind them) was some miles back, timing their arrival to coincide perfectly with the outer limits of the ten per cent rule.

It took a while to come to terms with the madness of it all – Froome crossing the line so far down, and those people with the giant heads giving away prizes and scaring people. And then there was Cataldo and De Marchi, scratching their heads, wondering where it all went wrong.

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