By Bjorn Haake in Escaldes - Engordany, Andorra
Australian champion Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) was supposed to help Cadel Evans win the Vuelta. With Evans out with his knee injury, Lloyd has had to refocus and try for a breakaway. It left him in a position to observe the battle for the general classification, which was a treat in itself.
Lloyd was a tad astonished on how the race played out towards Naturlandia. "I didn't think the break was going to stay away. With a rider like Ballan in there, I thought the others would have wanted to bring it back. It certainly was interesting to watch."
Lloyd was wondering when the GC contenders would attack each other. "The favourites will have to play their cards at some point. Everybody needs some seconds." He did notice how comfortable Sastre was looking, which further raised his eyebrows why the Spaniard wasn't trying something on the final climb in stage seven.
For Lloyd, the race personally hasn't gone to his liking just yet. Besides the last-minute change in plans and tactics, he was victim of a crash in stage six. "It was a kind of crash that happens when everyone is a little too comfy. We were really going fast, too. You don't think about it when you ride, but sometimes when I watch it from the outside, I am quite amazed."
Ironically, it is the riders' superior skills that can cause havoc. "We really know how to ride, so sometimes it gets too relaxed. It is sort of like an IT [information technology - ed.] expert sending an email to the wrong person, by accidentally putting in the wrong name in the "To:" field. It happens."
The wind doesn't help either. "Everybody wants to be on the front, so riders are constantly coming, then drifting back again," Lloyd described the constant motion within the endless churning peloton.
It is a very dynamic formation and it was the first time that the race was that nervous this year. Before, things were much more relaxed. Lloyd is hoping to be less relaxed on one of the stage and catch a good break. Now that has recovered from the crash fairly well, he is "hoping for a good two weeks."