What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta a PEZ: Going Granada

The first day of La Vuelta a Espaсa 2005 was good and bad at the same time for me, I managed to get photos of the “guapas”, a photo of Pez-mate Abraham Olano with a PEZ jersey, tried setting interviews with podium girls, and followed Koos Moerenhout of Davitamon-Lotto on the 7 kilometer prologue around the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada.

Actual image of the PEZ Eye-view of Koos Moerenhout of Davitamon-Lotto.

The bad news was I couldn’t send anything back to PEZ-HQ. This year AMD in conjunction with Hispasat are supplying Wi-Fi satellite Internet connection, great service, but with the combination of first-day problems of needing more space on the satellite and my old laptop, things were not going well. I knew my computer wasn’t up to date, state of the art, and I’m sure I heard one of the technicians ask his mate where the coal went to power it!

Catering services at La Vuelta are always family-style.

I managed to send out a little report and then thought, I had better go and see some racing (and look at the girls), and as the press room was a 25 minute walk (in 40єC) from the start and finish area, it was time to leave air-conditioned heaven. The next day the peloton drank more than 2,000 liters of water.

The toughest part of Al’s Vuelta assignment – keeping his camera steady while photographing the lovely ladies.

When I got to the start area things had changed from last year, the easy going Vuelta of the past has gone, high fences, many pass checks, sniffer dogs and policemen with crow-bars lifting drain covers, shame but that seems to be the way things have to be. Into the race start village, lots of nice looking girls, food to eat, hats and T-shirts to collect and the biggest Paella I’ve ever seen.

Bumped into one of the nicest guys in pro-cycling, Neil Stephens, now working for Liberty Seguros and always has time for a word and there was new “PEZ-mate” Abraham Olano again, so took the chance to photograph him with a PEZ jersey, but it seems I’m being stalked by a tall Spaniard (goes by name of Miguel) looking at my photographers jacket, I think he wants one, or is it my PEZ cap?

Much to our reporter’s surprise – there was an actual bike race going on around all the beautiful women.

Next on my list was to get in a car following a rider on the prologue, easy just go up to one with an empty seat and ask if you can get in, here is a good suggestion, pick a nice car, a BMW 5 or 7 series is best, and there was one. In my best polite Spanish I asked if I could jump in? Sure, mmmm nice car, what do you do?

Big Mig: still so big he won’t fit into our view-finder.

Well turns out Agatha and Pierre supply all the smart clothes for race officials through there company Pietro & Ducos (www.pietroyducos.com) and Agatha is bike race crazy, she loves to lean out the car and shout at the fans, last year I rode in a car with a lunatic, but Pierre was steady and comfortable, not like the usual race drivers.

Pierre and Agatha – our gracious, if unsuspecting, drivers at the Prologue.

The rider was Koos Moerenhout and he was also steady finishing 66th, 40 seconds behind winner Denis Menchov, (who speaks perfect Spanish for a Russian). Said my thanks to Agatha and Pierre and went to see if things had improved with the Internet connections, no!

This guy gets around – from Germany last week – to testing a new bull-fighting cape in Spain this week.

So maybe take some photos of bike riders, not usual for me but I’ll try anything once, Bettini looks cool as only an Italian can, past winner Casero looked fit and the Basque media as usual mobbed Mayo.

Iban Mayo – as popular as ever in Spain.

So that was my first stage, hard work of course, but I managed! And there’s more to come.

Remember Angel Casero? – He won this race once.

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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