What's Cool In Road Cycling

Inside A Major Tour: Spanish Style

When Unipublic, the organisers of La Vuelta a Espaсa, told me my accreditation was waiting for me in Valencia, I thought ”this is my chance to see some racing close up”. How wrong could I have been!

On the friday evening, before the race kicked off with the team time trial on the saturday, it was the usual Spanish f**k up, in all the papers they announced their would be a teams presentation, free to the public in the Museum of Arts & Sciences at 7.30pm, but it’s a big place, so I asked at the press office for any information. They said it is at 6 o’clock, it was now 6.30 and there was nothing to be seen. I waited until 7.30, but found out it was invitation only, and to fit TV schedules it started at 10.30, so no riders then. Last years winner Angel Casero, in a suit, said ”hola! Thanks very much, I’m off to bed! Night.” Outside their was a riot, police with dogs the lot, they nearly had to use tear gas to get rid of the people who had been waiting since before 7 to get in. I went home and watched it on TV.

Saturday, now I’ll see some bike racing! As you may have noticed our publisher (Pez) suggested that I take some photos of more than just bike riders, you would not believe how hard a job it is to photograph at least 21 ”babes”, one for each stage, but someone had to do it, and…..well I was the man for the job. After a couple of hours of that I thought I had better go see if I could get photos of some bike riders. As luck would have it, there was Di Luca warming up before the team time trial, that was easy, then I saw the scrum round the US Postal, Kelme and ONCE team busses, forget it. I spotted an old mate, USP mechanic, Alan Butler, we could talk about old times, but as to getting any interviews or photos of the riders? ”He’d see what he could do when the boss (Johan Bruyneel) had gone”.

At the Alexia, Acqua & Sapone and Cofidis busses things were not so bad, pickies of Cipo, Millar and Salvodelli in the bag, and who is this? Big Mig and family, it looked like his Mrs. was chewing his ear about something, so did’nt stop to chat, still not seen any race yet! I had best go back to photograph more ”babes”. On my way back to the US Postal bus, I bump into Tony Doyle, ex-world champ, I had worked with him on a few races in the past, he now works for Nike, so that guaranteed a good photo of Roberto Heras and Michael Barry posed for me as he was about to go to the start.

The start was no where near the finish, so it was down to the motorway underpass to see the last two teams for 5 seconds each! That was it! Well there is allways tomorrow, but their is so much stuff to blag as well as ”babes” to photo, food and drink to be had etc. How will I fit it all in?

To be continued…………….

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