03:30 alarm, shower, shave, jump in the van, Hughie Morgan on Radio Two, bus, plane, the two lad beside us are wasted on Magners and red vino already – happy holidays boys. Alicante, ice cold San Miguel – I almost forgave the airport prices.
Damn – It’s hot!
But there’s our boy Al to collect us and the air-con in the Megane works just fine.
Torrevieja, apparently aka “Costa Delle Yorkshire,” there are so many expats here – and venue for the opening nocturne TTT of La Vuelta 2019.
The big industry here is salt – yes, the stuff you put on your chips – and what they scatter on the road to melt the ice and rot your car.
The flamingos fish in the salt lagoons; the more salt in the water, the pinker they get.
There are huge piles of the stuff everywhere.
We find Race HQ and are soon in possession of the all-important credentials.
Time for lunch, 108 Euros for the langoustines? This isn’t the place…
Al takes us to a fave burger joint in the hills, our server is Belgian; we agree that Deceuninck are the boys on the flat but come those big mountains – not so much.
Back to Polop, I have a nap.
Dinner is in the hills, the views are stunning.
Aqua only for Ed, that burger is laying heavy…
* * *
La Vuelta 2019 – Stage One
Despite the best efforts of the donkeys and dogs who conversed well into the night, I slept well.
The forced march from Al’s up to town was worth it; spectacular views of the Leon Dormido and a few Euros buys you a café con leche and a LARGE Veterano up at the café which bears the same name as the huge rock.
Café con leche and a large Veterano – that’s a Spanish brandy, not for the faint hearted – as the local cycling club gathers for their Saturday morning run before the real heat of the day kicks in.
Walk back to Al’s, do that computer stuff and lunch at the car wash – nice,
And now we’re en route Torrevieja…
‘Weight of a Nation,’ the crowd round the Movistar bus is huge, there’s a roar, the masses parts and there he is, ‘Bala’ – champion of the world, Alejandro Valverde.
No smiles from ‘Bala,’ ‘Spain expects,’ the pressure on the Movistar guys is palapable.
Seventh on the day – not so many seasons ago they would have won this…
But not this day; Astana ran out winners from Deceuninck by two seconds – but the Belgians were baulked by the parked-up Jumbo Visma car.
Aforementioned ‘Green Bullet’ was the first rider we saw when we arrived, ‘trying out’ the circuit with his companeros.
Jumbo Visma were pre-race faves and looked mean on their ‘try out’ but came down heavily on water from a burst paddling pool in the race, washing away their chances.
I left the on-course snapping to Martin and Al and headed off to see what was going on in the bus park, with a nervous looking Burgos team heading out to the salt mine.
Meanwhile, over at Caja Rural there were last minute adjustments to brakes.
The Bahrain Meridas were getting their final shine before their high speed dash around the salt lagoons.
Presh or not, the fans have to be kept happy; I remember when Fran Ventoso was a fresh faced young sprinter with Saunier Duval, now he’s a battle hardened road captain.
Sam Bennett too was happy to oblige with the photo ops.
Much more serious over at Lotto Soudal however.
And at Deceuninck, no time for autographs – the vehicles parked in such a way as to keep the public well back from the athletes.
Burgos arrived back in varying states of wastedness…
The Jumbo Visma boys were back on the turbos after their try-out with Roglič looking nervous despite the cooling water mist he was being sprayed with.
Fabio Aru heads for the start, the comeback continues, he was 14th in le Tour, albeit this wasn’t a good day for UAE, crash victims on a wet corner along with Jumbo.
All that preparation for nothing, powerhouse Tony Martin’s TTT would end on water spilled from a kiddie’s paddling pool.
The BIG weaponry deploys, Deceuninck; ice vests and cold stares but the masters were compromised by a badly parked Jumbo car; ‘that’s pro bike racing…
EF come back from the office, not a bad shift, fourth over the salt.
Chaves, killer TTT or not, the man still has that winning smile for his public.
Which team was she on, Amigo?
Time for us to drive back to Polop – for the mechanics, the work just keeps on coming…