Tuesday, January 18, 2022
HomeDiariesLa Vuelta 2019 - Stage 3; Ibi > Alicante, Sam Bennett Storms...

La Vuelta 2019 – Stage 3; Ibi > Alicante, Sam Bennett Storms In

Two 3rd category climbs were expected to make life difficult for the sprinters on this flat 186km stage, which was anticipated to be La Vuelta’s first mass finish...

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Café-bar Polmar in Polop is how all bars should be; friendly, a mixed clientele, cold beer, whichever spirit or wine you can think of, good coffee and great tapas – not least of which is the tortilla verdura [vegetable].

It’s well worth the forced march up from Al’s to the village – and where our Day One and Two ramblings and pictures were put together.

Sam Bennett
Photo©Ed Hood

The owner, Javi is a mountain bike man so knows his cycling as well as serving the best tortilla I’ve ever tasted.

Breakfast over, vamos!

* * *

Stage Three heads back into the hills; Ibi to Alicante over 188 kilometres, not as tough as Stage Two but with two third cat. climbs, the Puertos de Biar and Tibo – due to the geography of the stage we chose the latter.

It’s 714 metres high, 4.6 kilometres long with an average gradient of 5.8%.

We were there in plenty of time and the crowds weren’t big. Those that were there were well behaved – you don’t mess with Las Unidades de Intervención Policial (the National Police, or UIP).

The UIP (riot police) keep an eye on VV pal Al Hamilton and his cameras. Photo©Ed Hood

They’re all tall, fit, tough-looking young men, implacable in sharp, black uniforms behind their shades – in the pecking order of multiple Spanish police organisations they are ‘the Boys.’

Photo©Ed Hood

Then the motorbikes appear; more and more of them, police, routing, press, service, more police…

All driven with flourish at what would appear to be a much higher speed than is really necessary.

Photo©Ed Hood

And then there are those bizarre twin front-wheeled jobs; Yamaha Nikens.

All part of the ritual of waiting on the race – how many Grand Tour stages have I seen? Dozens, maybe hundreds – but there’s still that buzz of anticipation which the bikes generate; green then yellow flags on the crash bars of the police motos as the race gets nearer with red flags meaning it’s imminent.

The last wave of photog bikes passes then it’s the two slow moving police motos…