Vuelta de PEZ ’08: The Road To Jaйn
Vuelta Roadside 2: Don’t ever say no one watches the Vuelta, today you couldn’t move for fans on the finishing circuits, the main problem was understanding where the race was supposed to be going, it was all a bit confusing, but turned out a very good day for Mr. Valverde.
Thousands of olive trees love this dry heat.
As the start wasn’t until 13.41, I could take my time looking around the village, but it was much the same as the day before so it was back to my now favorite bar for a coffee and toast with tomato and olive oil. I didn’t realize how much oil is made in this region and the amount of olive trees I would see and the people watching the race, the Spanish have got the right idea, food, shade and a nice drink, some had the BBQ on the go too.
Empty tables at the start village signaled a return to A’s favorite bar for more toast.
The first confusion was how to get out of Granada as the press cars had been lined up behind the start so we couldn’t get out, but with a bit of whistle blowing from the numerous police we were off leaving the start to sort itself out, there wasn’t much food anyway!
Saw a man with a penny farthing bike and Nicolas Roche again, who was to figure in the action later, then it was out past the accordion player sat at the side of the road and good bye Granada!
After a long stretch of motorway which is actually the main road between Malaga and Madrid we turned off onto a road that you wouldn’t choose to ride on your best wheels as surface was badly broken up, but the views over what must be thousands of olive trees was stunning.
Here I saw a family, it looked like three generations plus dog sat under a broad olive tree, they had also put up the Spanish flag, they were having a great day, Vuelta or not!
The next surprise was in a small village, as I came round a corner I spotted a pony eating from a bucket quite near a BBQ which was all out side what looked like a run down over grown house, but it was a pub and they were setting out tables for a very busy lunch trade, all the restaurants I passed were full, the best tables where outside with full view of the road.
At the top of the Alto de las Encebras (3rd cat), there were many families with their lunch, some totally liquid by the looks of it, tents for the shade and one bike fan had brought his hammock and had it strung between the trees.
As the course entered Jaen there were many narrow village roads that looked perfect for a lone or small group to get away, there wasn’t any straight or level roads, all very twisty, and with three circuits that went in different directions it was all a bit complicated.
One of the Euskaltel riders tried his luck as they were all at only 8 seconds adrift of the Gold. This wasn’t to be as the big guns were starting to fire, Quick-Step, Caisse d’Epargne and Liquigas had other ideas. This is when Nico Roche attacked and caught everyone napping, others came up to him but he just rode them off his wheel. In the end he was caught, but still managed 11th in the sprint.
Alejandro Valverde took the stage and managed to cover me with the sponsors Cava Gran Ducay, which probably tastes great, but doesn’t smell so good when it’s dried on your shirt.
My good friend Pierre of Pietro & Ducos, who supply the smart clothing for La Vuelta, asked me to take some photos of him presenting the team prize, bit of a panic as the battery was flashing on the camera, but I had to do the photos as I was bribed with a very smart polo shirt!
Photos done, article done, now enjoy the stunning view from the Press office and then find my hotel, where ever that might be?
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