On the face of it there aren’t many things that BMX and Tour de France racing have in common. Sure they both involve bikes – and the design of the bike has remained remarkably stable over the century it has been around – but the clothes fit differently, the tyres are radically different widths and one involves a mid air acrobatics, while the other avoided them at all costs.
But, as Carols Rodríguez found out on the descent of Col de Joux Plane on stage 14 of this year’s Tour de France, there are some transferable skills.
“I was just focused on doing the climb as quickly as possible, and when I managed to get back before the descent, I took advantage of my good descending skills. I think the victory came from the descent, and I’m sure my past as a BMX rider helped.”
Rodríguez carved his way down the mountain with poise while the two yellow jersey contender Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar mostly looked at each other as they took a more cautious approach.
While the 22 year-old Spaniard displayed nerves of steel his team boss Rod Ellingworth wasn’t so comfortable. “That descent,” said the Ineos Grenadiers deputy principal, puffing out his cheeks as he exhaled. “I couldn’t watch. Well, I was watching but I was turning away at every corner.”
He added: “He’s been getting better each day. To win from a GC group that’s what is quite impressive. We knew that Pogacar and Vingegaard are messing around there but he took the opportunity. He read it well.”
Summing up his own feelings Rodríguez said: “It’s incredible, just to be here. So getting a victory, even more. I still can’t believe it, I’m super grateful to my team, all my teammates for working for and trusting in me. Hopefully I can make the work worth it in the coming days.”
He added that he wasn’t sure if he could keep his podium spot, he is just one second ahead of Australian Jai Hindley in fourth, saying he simply had to get to the finish as quick as possible each day. “I’m not going to obsess myself with getting that third sport,” he said.
With two stage wins and one foot on the podium Ineos Grenadiers took another step towards making their Tour an unqualified success. Ellingworth said the squad’s goal at the race start in Bilbao had been two stage wins, top five or a podium and the teams classification (which they are currently leading). While he said there was “a lot of bike racing to go” the understated Ellingworth said the team were “doing alright at the minute”.
For Rodríguez all there was left to do, having thanked his team-mates profusely, was to dedicate his win to someone. “It’s my parents, who have supported me forever, they did everything for me, and it would be impossible to be here without that support. They still try to always be there for me. This victory is really for them.”