La Vuelta a España 2008 in Cudillero. The last day for us, but the sun was out, Asturias was looking at it’s best and Bill Medley and Jennifer Warne were on Kiss FM; “I’ve had, the time of my life,” – damn right!
Cudillero is a nice spot, not unlike one of the ‘smugglers villages’ in Cornwall, piled high into a steep cleft in the cliffs.
We were there before the teams and had time for a wander, a coffee and to buy an Asturias T-shirt, I’m 53, it’s sad, I know.
The game plan was for interviews first, then catch the stage finish in a bar, on the TV.
The CA bus was our primary target; Nicolas Roche and Jez Hunt. I showed my card to a team official, I got the usual grunts; “you must wait, I come back,” – what he forgot to say was that he would be back in a day or two.
The next chap we pitched was cool though and Nicolas (above) trotted down the steps to see us, he’s a good looking lad and recently got his first win as a pro and has a new contract with AG2R for 2009 – CA being defunct as of the season’s end.
Jez (above) had a tummy bug, he has good descriptive powers concerning the symptoms, but we won’t go into that here!
It was trickier getting a few words with Eziquiel Mosquera (above), but if you ain’t persistent and patient, don’t even consider a career in journalism.
He exuded calm cool, very low profile, a man who talks with his pedals.
We got some good shots, then grabbed a few words with Tom Boonen – you guessed; “it’s all on Pez!”
The roll out was approaching and we stotted about, getting pics here and there.
The stars are just ‘one of the boys’ at the start; Bettini threw the paper off his roll at a young pro, who promptly bounced it back off the world champs forehead.
I tried to get a few words with CSC’s Argentinean sprinter, JJ Haedo; “see me at the finish, please,” he replied – I could tell all wasn’t well with the man and it was no surprise when later in the day we heard that he’d ‘chucked it.’
The flag dropped and they were off, so were we, headed for Bilbao and the Easyjet to Reality City on Tuesday.
There was one more job to do though, watch the stage on the TV.
Café 2000 was a good venue, Davie talked the barmaid into switching on the big monitor and we saw some snippets of racing in between the huge ad breaks – that’s how it seemed, anyway.
I’ve said it in my Pez piece, but it was day of sparse crowds, but like I said, if nobody lives there, nobody is going to watch.
The result was a cracker – with our man Eziquiel’s team mate David Garcia Dapena wanting the win more than the three ‘big boys’ from the Pro Tour mega teams.
If I’m translating the Spanish newspapers correctly, it’s 19 years since a Galician won a Vuelta stage – Dapena’s DS, Alvaro Pino. (That’s the same Alvaro who has a wee bit of ‘previous’ remember – he was at Phonak, but had to ‘leave.’)
Davie drove as I tapped the BlackBerry keys, but we still had the pics to organise.
Bilbao was hellish, just so much traffic and it would have been very difficult to get a hotel.
We decide to head for Mungia, about 20 minutes outside Bilbao, where we had stayed four years ago.
We got a room at the same hotel and to my deep joy, the new ‘style bar’ next door to our digs, had free, fast wi-fi.
The pics flew, we paid the man and it was pizza time.
Reality tomorrow, and there’s nothing worse than leaving a stage race before the finish!
Hope you enjoyed the trip, until next time, adios amigos.