What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta a PEZ 2: A Day In The Mountains

Sometimes I have to pinch myself, here I am amongst the best cyclists, past and present, in some of the most wonderful scenery, at the top stage race, looking at beautiful women, in the best country in the world, it’s just great!

Some lucky blokes actually get to walk with the beautiful Vuelta girls, we only get to take the pics.

Spain has it all, especially at La Vuelta time, another hard day in the car seat saw me drive via Valencia to see my “novia” (girlfriend, Olivia), to this ski station in the middle of nowhere, called Valdelinares at 2,000 meters altitude. The temperatures I’m glad to say have dropped from the 40 plus degrees in Granada to 18є C on the way here and a little rain, there is even talk of hail showers later, possibly shorts and T-shirt won’t be enough, but I still have my HP umbrella.

…Sorry Pedro – they’re only available at GloryCycles.com.

There is nothing more sad than a summer sea-side resort in the winter, except maybe a ski resort in the summer, but this one is quite nice and today La Vuelta has taken over, the price of a boccadillo is a bit steep, but we are a captive audience and a nice bread roll with Spanish omelet (tortilla) for lunch was very good. Note for the future; the best free food is at the race start not the finish.

There is a disease spreading throughout Spain, and here is no different, golf courses with adjoining hotel and time share complex, its like a rash, where there used to be almond and olive groves with a goat herder sleeping under a tree there is now little flags, buggies, checked pants and adverts for Ping, which I thought was the noise my micro-wave makes!

Spanish champ Manuel Garate’s Scott CR1 team bike, with very cool paint.

OK that’s my rant over and you want to hear more cycling connected trivia? So it was off to the finish area to see what was happening, first I dropped in to the Scott truck to talk to Virginie who runs the whole thing, its not a surprise that its mobbed, nice hats, sweets and stickers as well as the girls handing stuff out, you can also look at the bikes, Tafi’s last Paris-Roubaix bike, Virginie said the team are so motivated the atmosphere is electric in the team bus.

Time for some photos of girls (again) and then to watch the finish on the big screen, I had the pleasure of Neil Stephens in-depth commentary on the last climb, Jakob Piil of CSC was away on his own, but behind Heras and Menchov were pulling him in. Neil (in his Australian) subtly pointed out that “Piil is f**ked” which was true as they went straight past him, Neil then had to get all his kit ready for the podium and as now Heras has most of the jerseys he needed a lot of sponsor labels.

Roadside marketing – a Spanish ham maker hired painters to splash its name all over the road.

Best thing Heras got was a Teruel Jamon, one of the tastiest in Spain, also from Teruel there was some road painting as the people of Teruel think they have been forgotten, so they paint, Teruel Exists on any bit of clear road. On La Vuelta there are many policemen, but only one policewoman and she was frightening, I didn’t have the “cojones” to ask her name, but I did get her photo.

Now that’s some sweet “jamon”.

As the other riders crossed the line you could see in their faces it had been a hard day, Oscar Sevilla as usual held his head down and Unai Yus had ridden out of his skin and was being interviewed sat on the road. Not really a mountain stage but Heras had thrown down the gauntlet and for some the “mierda” had hit the fan.

Well it was time to go, but managed to add a photo of Pedro Delgado with a PEZ jersey to my collection of Abraham Olano, only BIG Mig to go for the full set. As I was in the queue to get down the hill the new gold jersey passed us as Heras got through while the rest of us had to wait hours, worse for me I got stuck behind a giant cheese for an hour, oh well its all fun.

Pez-man Alastair Hamilton has graciously agreed to leave his comfy desk job at the PezCycling Spanish Bureau, and actually go to a race. Not that it took much convincing – considering his top assignment to photograph the beautiful girls of La Vuelta.

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