Blazin' Saddles

Lustrous Lastras

Blazin' Saddles

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At some
point during his final descent into Totana, Pablo Lastras must have had some
serious thoughts about how he was going to celebrate his victory.

Nine years
after he first won two stages in his debut Tour, Lastras added a third - all at
the not-so-tender age of 35.

Using all
his experience and nous, the Movistar veteran took his fellow escapees by
surprise on the final climb of the day before soloing down the descent to take
the win.

With three
riders - including the dangerous all-rounder Sylvain Chavanel - in pursuit, you'd
have thought Lastras would have been far too busy simply thinking about trying
to stay out in front rather than choreographing celebrations.

Not so - if
his elaborate stage-winning routine was anything to go by. 

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Photo 1 - Pablo Lastras Of The Movistar Team Celebrates AFP/Getty Images
Approaching
the finish line, Lastras first placed the crucifix of his necklace in his
mouth; he then held three fingers up towards the sky before pointing aloft with
one solitary index; next up, he made the sign of the cross, culminating what
could only be described as a finger-kiss of the kind a smug chef - Gordon
Ramsay, say - might make when particularly pleased about the taste of his
signature dish.

Bear with
Saddles, though, we're only roughly a third-way through: Lastras next made a 'V'
sign in the air, followed by another point towards the heavens, and then a kind
of scuba diving-style 'Okay' signal.

Far from
over, Lastras then kissed his wrist, thumped his chest with his right hand,
then made a diagonal arm swipe / military-style salute with his right arm
before, finally, pumping the air with his fist.

If this was
a game of football and Lastras had just scored the winning goal, the Spaniard
would have been sent off for time wasting. 

All in all,
it lasted about 10 seconds - and was the kind of routine which would have given
even Steps or Take That (in their prime) a run or their money.  

For those of who missed the action and are now thoroughly intrigued -- and also for those who glazed over while reading the last few paragraphs -- you can watch the entire thing right here:

Later, when
Lastras was interviewed, he shed some light on his celebration-slash-dedication:
not only was he remembering his late team-mate Xavier Tondo and the Belgian
rider Wouter Weylandt - both of whom died earlier in the season - he was paying
his respects to another team-mate, Juan Mauricio Soler, who was critically
injured in an accident during the Tour of Switzerland.

Riders
since these incidents have been invariably quick to dedicate their wins to
either Tondo, Weylandt or Soler - but no one so far has done the hat-trick. It
goes to show why Lastras is one of the most popular chaps in the peloton. A
classy celebration for a classy guy.

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Movistar rider Lastras celebrates after winning the third stage of the Tour of Spain
And yet,
Saddles is still astounded by the continuity and flawlessness of Lastras' long
routine - it was as well thought out and executed as his solo attack, but must have
been concocted in those final kilometres during which Lastras not only had to
deal with the chasing trio, but also what appeared to be a nasty pang of cramp
as he entered the outskirts of Totana.

Unless, of
course, Lastras had the whole thing planned and his winning skit all worked out
in his head prior to the stage. Just like those preposterously elaborate handshake-fistpump-chestbump routines concocted by the youth of today, perhaps Lastras had been working on his piece behind closed doors for
the past few days, determined to seize an opportunity to give him the chance to
deliver it to the world.

Whatever
the case, Lastras was luminous and not listless on Monday. A worthy win for a
fine rider - a rider who not only has stage scalps in all three Grand Tours,
but one who has gone about his career while making many friends along the way.

 

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