Blazin' Saddles

The postman delivers

Blazin' Saddles

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Nice guy, David Moncoutie. That's what everyone says. But
you wouldn't want him at a dinner party - he'd probably bring his own food and
eat it in a separate room.

Still, the Frenchman's love affair with the Vuelta
continues: the veteran climber has now won a stage in every race since 2008,
plus he's on course for a fourth successive King of the Mountains title too.

It would be cause for celebration, but Moncoutie doesn't
look like the kind of guy who does celebrations. A glass of apple juice and a
vegan quiche instead, perhaps?

It's not hard to see why Moncoutie targeted stage 11 - the
barren, empty and at times uninspiring surroundings mirrored his character both
off and on the bike. There were, for large parts of the stage, no fans
whatsoever lining the roads - even on the final climb to the ghostly empty 'ski
resort' of Manzaneda.

All this was perfect for the hermitic Cofidis veteran, who
could simply go about doing what he likes doing most - riding his bike with no
frills and without having to do so alongside anyone else (he is a notorious
recluse in the peloton).

They call Moncoutie 'Le Postier' in France, which roughly
translates as 'the postman' - although it can be anything as waterish and
humble as 'the postal worker'.

It's a pretty apt nickname for someone as seemingly bland as
Moncoutie - even if it's primarily because his father actually was a postman in
his time.

Apparently, Moncoutie used to be pretty good at football
when he was younger, to the point that he considered it as a career over
cycling. Lucky he didn't follow it through - not only are there too many
Sebastian Squillacis in the world, cycling would be a poorer place without the
staid Moncoutie.

And let's give him his dues - he may not be one the most
interesting people on the planet, but Moncoutie has a pretty good track record
throughout his long career.

The 36-year-old was going to quit at the end of last season,
but had a change of heart after another strong Vuelta - a decision that has
been vindicated today. Perhaps now he'll carry on for another? Saddles hopes
so.

After victory in the Mediterranean Tour early in the season,
Moncoutie had a pretty sketchy Tour de France. His biggest impact came in stage
13 when he was accused by French fans of messing up compatriot Jeremy Roy's
chances by having a pop himself. There's no pleasing some people.

But an active Vuelta, which has now delivered a stage win
and could yet see another polka dot jersey crown, means that the old adage 'the
postman always delivers' rings true for Moncoutie - at least during the Vuelta.

An interesting final fact about Moncoutie: he is one of the
few riders who actually has to stop and get off his bike when putting on his
rain coat. In short, he's not a risk-taker at all. Some people chastise him for
this, but it's also one of his distinctive qualities.

Keep it going, David. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Britain's Bradley Wiggins moved into
the race lead after his Sky team-mate Chris Froome faded on the final climb.
The good news is that Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) also cracked, so Froome
only drops one place to second.

We now have a Vuelta GC topped by two British riders -
surely the first time that's ever happened.

What's more, the previously inseparable team-mates are back
where they like to be: together. Just seven seconds splits them both - can
Friggins (or Woome) see this two-way continue all the way to Madrid?

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