What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vuelta ’07: Start Day Minus 1

We’re at the start of this year’s Vuelta a Espaсa in the Galician town of Vigo, on the most westerly coast at the most northern bit, just above Portugal, in fact only 30 kilometers from Portugal. The race gets underway tomorrow, but today it’s travel and team presentations. PEZ is there and here’s the proof…

Seaside northern Spain – not a bad place to start a bike race.

Vigo sits in a beautiful bay area with villages and houses dotted all around some very green scenery, so it rains here a lot, but not today, the sky is blue and clear.

I left my Mediterranean home at 4am today and the temperature was 38єC; Vigo is a much more comfortable 20єC. Thanks to Iberia Airlines and a broken air-conditioning unit on the plane from Madrid, I missed the catamaran trip up the River of Vigo and a lunch at the Yacht Club, and all the free gifts that La Vuelta could throw at me were not going to make me feel any better or fill my stomach, but I do now own a wheelie laptop case, nice.

Most of the Milram boys look happy to be here…

Since no boat trip, we had better have a look at the news here in Spain. In today’s Marca (daily sports paper) there is a special pull-out middle section all about the Vuelta, they call the favorite as Carlos Sastre followed by Cadel Evans, Gomez Merchante and Dennis Menchov. Local boy, Oscar Periero is a good outside bet at 17/1 and he has signed for another two years with Caisse d’Epargne. As you would imagine the big headlines are not amongst the Vuelta news, it’s in its own section; “Valverde! This will divide cycling”. Vuelta organizers are disgusted, “why now, he rode the Tour.” The best quote has to be from one of Marca’s writers, he said, “the UCI are enemies of cycling” and “Pat McQuaid is only a puppet (marioneta) of Hein Verbruggen” … nice.

Race director Abraham Olano looked more relaxed this year.

This evening there will be a Team Presentation, let’s hope it goes better than last year, live TV and all the teams where late because of the traffic jams caused by, yup – La Vuelta. Abraham Olano never flapped so much when he was a rider as much as he did that night.

…As did Oscar P.

Thought I had better take walk down by the by the Royal Nautical Club to see what I had missed this afternoon, very high class area, so I was surprised to see Alan Buttler and Craig Geater, the two Discovery mechanics. They were enjoying cocktails, so had to find my own lift to the team presentation. But it was good to see them and they both wanted to know how fellow PEZ-writer, Ed Hood was getting on?

So, it was on the bus for me and what a very nice journey it was, through what is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve sen. Lots of trees and parks, rolling roads with glimpses of the sea to one side, and the people were all talkative and helpful. The most helpful would be the manageress of the Ancla Dorada Hostal where I am staying, don’t be fooled by the word Hostal, it’s got an en suite, TV and has Wi-Fi, she made sure it worked for me and called out their internet man to check it over, great!

A lot of the riders would rather be doing something else… like riding.

Team presentations look great on the television, behind the scenes it’s completely different, bored riders, tired journo’s, uninterested team staff and stressed organization, but the food was nice. Jamon Serrano, Gambas, and lots of tasty little nibbles, well worth going, for me any way. Bumped into “Maggie” Backstead, looking fit, looking forward to the race and looking forward to a change of team for next year – and also asking for Ed Hood!

The teams trooped onto the stage as Pedro Delgado and the other commentator introduced the teams, the stages and this year’s Vuelta song, sung by a nice young lady whose name I can’t remember, but she was entertaining none the less.

Let the show begin…

Back to the Ancla Dorada to download my photos (Daily Distractions soon) and write this up. I’ve been on the go now for 20 hours and tomorrow there is a race to watch and an night out in Vigo, I’ve been given the run down on the action from ex-Pro Fabian Jeker, he’s been here for a few days and knows where the action is, he says, well we’ll see!

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