La Vuelta a Espania


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Posted on: 16th September 2014

Cycling in Spain

Final Vuelta Blog: Farewell Spain!

On the day of our final ride of our tour in Spain we awoke to the sounds of rain, so plans to ride from Sanxeno to Santiago were changed a little, postponing our ride to when we arrived at the pilgrim centre and the site of today’s final time-trial.

Surprisingly (not), the crew warmly accepted the change, and we loaded the van to do the 80km transfer. Of course as soon as we took off the sun peeked through the rather heavy looking sky.

We checked into our final hotel, a beautiful 4-star establishment, and sorted the luggage and bikes while I re-routed the mapping for our final ride. Again, it was pretty difficult to avoid hills but the district around Santiago was fantastic for cycling, but hilly. I believe I saw 1100m of climbing in the 55km we rode.

Back for a bite in town, a quick shower, and off we went to the final time-trial. The start of the 10k hilly TT took place at a new public building, a library and museum affair. I imagine that only a couple of years ago the site would have been paddocks on the edge of town. The building’s form appeared to be a very low-slung copy of Sydney’s Opera House.

The whole complex made it a pretty spectacular point of departure. We checked out the ramp, the team buses, and riders warming up. Before the heavens opened up, I caught up with old mate Erik Zabel, who still looks pretty fit. He is doing a few Strada Bianche type events now and said it’s something I should indulge in. 

Also chatted a little with Brian Cookson, UCI president. He said TV rights were something he wants to bring up for debate, however he’s still tied down with getting the house in order, so to speak. With the World Champs around the corner, he can’t believe how quick his first year in office has passed and looks forward to ticking off their agendas.

Then the rain came down and the TT results extended by times of over 2 minutes to those who managed to finish in the dry. Rohan Dennis did exceptionally well to come 3rd despite not riding in the best conditions.

We were part of the town square celebrations and went onto enjoy a tour-farewell tapas dinner. We even had the key players of Belgium TV sitting at the next table, and Jose De Cauwer was there—he was a teammate from my first year with Peugeot in 1980. Overall, it was a fantastic way to end our Vuelta tour.

I’m on my way back to Australia again but I look forward to catching up again with all the guys who joined me on the bike and in the bars of Spain. There’s something about solidarity in suffering that makes spending your holiday on a bike tour an easy way to make new mates! Many thanks for a great time, Graham, Anthony, Damian, Daryl, Michael, and Rudy. 

Written by Phil Anderson


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