What's Cool In Road Cycling

La Vuelta Preview: ’06 Revisited

When I saw the 2006 Vuelta a Espaсa was starting in Malaga I thought it can’t get worse: it’s either two plane changes, or a drive to Valencia then an old plane (with propellers!), or a 7 hour drive from where I live in Alicante to get to the start. So you can imagine how pleased I was when they announced that this year’s race would start in the furthest North West tip of Spain in the Galician Town of Vigo. Next year it starts in Amsterdam, yes Holland, no I’m not going, that is for sure!

Malaga ‘06
Eventually I arrived in Malaga, the plane from Valencia was like catching a local bus, except they handed out newspapers, bocadillo’s and drinks, and you don’t get that on many planes these days! The bus into town took us past an enormous basketball stadium on the outskirts, apparently Malaga has one of the biggest and best basketball teams in Spain, what I didn’t know was that I would be getting to know the Palacio de los Deportes Josй MЄ Martin Carpena very well over the next two days and the local bus route.

The Teams Presentation
So after a bus trip back out to the sports stadium to get my accreditation and all the free gifts, too many to tell you about, but the Vuelta ‘memory stick’ was nice and useful. It was the bus back again to the town centre for the teams presentation which was live on National TV. This was a recipe for disaster as most of the teams were staying a long way from town and the traffic jams were backing up, Astana were to be first on, this was not the last appointment they were to miss, the other being when they missed the UCI “Vampires” before the time trial in Cuenca.

The presentation was a jolly affair, riders sitting around getting bored and wanting to go back to bed and the old-time journos eating and drinking their weight in free grub. Organizer and ex- Vuelta champ, Abraham Olano was even more stressed now than when he punctured in the last kilometer of the World road race he won in Colombia. All was late, but the food was great and there were quite a pretty ladies to keep me “Distracted.”

The Prologue
This year they decided to have a team time trial of only 7.3 kilometers from the sports center to the harbor, one bend straight to the line, took in the beach, which wasn’t that nice, and even the dowdy Malagans couldn’t be bothered to dress themselves up for the big event.

So back to the free things, Josй Manuel Rodrнguez Huertas has written the “Ciclopedia” a ‘War& Peace’ sized tome in two volumes that wieghs two kilos. It lists every rider who has ever raced in Spain between the years 1990 and 2005, with photos and palmares, basically everything… And yes, he gave one to everyone, which I gleefully used on the first day to look up the last time they had a TTT as a prologue (Valencia 2002). By day #2, the logistics of lugging this sucker around all day on the bus, with lap top and camera, had given yet another spin to the glamourous life of a cycling journo.

I managed to see the start, write the race report and miss the finish. Although the girls lining up to hold the riders at the start was well worth it. So it was back on the bus to town and dinner, which was as I remember, Gazpacho, Pescarito Fritto, Albondigas, Patatas Bravas, finished with Crema Catalan and all washed down with a nice Vino Tinto de Jerez.

Stage 1
Not an early start, but back to the sports stadium for the start on the bus again. Took lots of photos of riders and any passing “Distractions” and BANG, they were off and that was that, the first weekend of the 2006 Vuelta a Espaсa, just another 3 weeks of fast excitement to go. Valverde looked like he had it in the bag untill those Kazaks showed him what they had in their kit bags!

La Vuelta 2007
This year’s race starts on the 1st of September in Vigo and we wil be there to soak up all the action, ambiance, food and drink and of course “La Distractions de la Vuelta.”

Set your dial to PEZ!

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.