Hola from Comillas! “Adios Valverde” – so says the sports paper AS in response to Alejandro dropping 3′ 23″ yesterday in what should have been an innocuous transition stage – those Spanish journos aren’t shy.

Sleep came easily last night; but I was on the laptop for 07.00 to get my Angliru piece written.

Breakfast was tortilla with chorizo on rolls, washed down with café con leche – braw.

It was a “pester the mechanics’ day, today – there’s a story on Pez about it here.

The drive down to Comillas passed quickly, the mountains on the right and glimpses of glorious beaches to the left.

Davie and I have been to Comillas before, on our Spanish adventure of 2004. I remember reading about Llaneras taking silver in the Olympic points race at Athens – that was to be his swan song, but four years later, he wins the same race!

Maybe somebody told Lance about that!

Comillas
The Gaudi villa in Comillas.

There’s a Gaudi villa in Comillas, just off the main road, whilst a short distance away, glorious white, creamy breakers froth and pound up the well manicured beach – it’s a nice town.

We were lucky because Comillas was the closest town to us where teams were staying for the rest day and it was all the important squads. CSC with Sastre; Astana with Contador and Leipheimer; Euskaltel with gold jerseyed Martinez and Caisse with ex-contender, Alejandro ‘Adios’ Valverde.

It still involved a 100 mile plus journey each way, but what else do you do on a rest day?

Comillas
I spy the Astana hotel.

Astana were first up, usually my amigo, Alan Buttler is cranking the spanners, but he did the Germany and Eneco Tours, so he’s in Nottingham just now.

The gossip is that Levi wants to win and ‘Bert’ is supposedly a tad upset about that. He’s also alleged to be upset about a certain gentleman announcing his comeback during the Spaniards home race, thus grabbing much of the limelight which rightfully belongs to the Vuelta.

Comillas
That’s a compact chainset with a 34T inner ring, and an extra long armed outer ring, making 53T possible…
Comillas
…together with a 30T plate on the back, equals some pretty small ratios.

And word is that he’s trebly upset because Bruyneel has reputedly been less than honest about declaring his dealings with the man from Plano – all great stuff!

Comillas

Bert was on the turbo when we got there, down in the hotel garage, I managed to beg my way in for a pic or two. Levi was nowhere to be seen.

Bert reappeared later, looking relaxed and smiling broadly, shaking hands all round before zooming off for lunch with his wife, in a Merc 4×4.

Comillas
Bert doesn’t look like he’s worried about his date with destiny tomorrow.

If I was a betting man, I’d put my euros on Bert in ‘oro’ by this time tomorrow.

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Astana, like pro teams should be, are very organised.

Al Hamilton’s amigo, Chris at Astana was ok with us, but not really chatty.

Comillas
Sealed bearing make a mechanic’s life much better!

Over at CSC, their mechanic, Tony was a much better prospect for a man with copy to file – he blethered away fine with us.

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White, black or red – it’s down to personal preference.

The squad were on their turbos under an awning, to dodge the frequent showers, which whip in off the Bay of Biscay.

Comillas
Turbo? Check. iPod? Check.

JJ Haedo, the Argentinean sprinter, will really be looking forward to the Angliru.

Comillas

Carlos Sastre ambled out, surrounded by Spanish journos desperate for quotes.

Comillas
Carlos gives Ed “the look”.

Both squads were the centre of attention – not mobbed, but with a steady stream of fans, friends and journos.

Meanwhile, round at Euskaltel – current home of the oro jersey – there was not a soul to bug the mechanics; just us.

Comillas
Friendly Basque boys.

It looked like it was going to be a bit dour, but Tomas (above, right) spoke decent English and once he saw we were not going to ask overly dumb questions, then things were cool.

Finally we ambled round to Caisse D’Epargne, it was a bit ‘flat’ round there – I wonder why?

Comillas
Alejandro ‘Adios’ Valverde’s beautiful Pinarello.

The local sidreria provided patatas bravas for a late lunch then Davie drove us back to Oviedo through the showers.

Comillas
It seems you either love this setup, or hate it. We love it.

I sent my copy off the BlackBerry from the car, but had to edit and send my pics from the hotel, where the wi-fi was acting up; Davie says he’s never seen me so angry – oops!

By the time I finished the pics and we had a bite to eat, it was bed time.

It’s 08.00 Saturday as I finish writing this, we’re in a café at the foot of the Angliru but must dash – it’s only ten hours ’til the race gets here!