Our Rest Day Review of the first week of La Vuelta 2019. Remember all those jokes about getting sent to the salt mines for misdemeanours? Those World Tour riders must have been real bad to get this gig; a 13.4 kilometre team time trial around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja.
As a wise man once said; “all good things must come to an end,” and the salida of Stage Four was our last couple of hours on the 2019 Vuelta. We’d planned a certain ‘shape’ of piece, which finished with a fantastic win for Angel Madrazo, but events of that stage and Thursday’s Stage Six rather over took our plans as abandons dominated the news.
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.
Today’s stage started in Benidorm, not beside the sea but on the north side of town, away from the football strip clad, burnt red, stag and hen madness and the karaoke bars. We caught the action at three spots before Nairo Quintana stormed into Calpe for a tremendous win.
VeloVeritas is back at a Grand Tour, La Vuelta 2019. This year it kicks off with a super-fast team test around the salt lagoons of Torrevieja before heading straight into the mountains on stage two - no 'easing in' to this race. Martin and Ed have taken advantage of the hospitality of VV amigo and local resident, Al Hamilton - formerly of the Dear Green Place that is Glasgow - to catch the primero quatro tappas.
We're in Seravezza. 'Sad news, Donna Summer has passed away' said the text from Martyn Frank. That news cast a shadow over a day of bright sunshine and hills. The start was down on the coast - it's not quite beach season, so it's not heaving yet.
‘With the current system we’re shafted’ says BC coach Rod Ellingworth regarding the fact that the world’s best roadman sprinter will have a whole two team mates in Melbourne. The GB and Sky ‘spin machine’ continually tell us how strong British Cycling is; but when it comes down to it, we’re actually joint 22nd in terms of numbers of riders we’re eligible to send to the Elite Worlds. we should 'Stop Messing with Nature'.
Sunday dawned bright and clear and it was three refreshed men who headed for Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. This was bike skeking taken to a new level; two-and-a-half hours of it, and it wasn't enough. Batavus are an old favourite of ours and their 'Professional X' is cool, matt black against a tide of white this year.
This season saw Ethan Hayter sign with Ineos and the podium came early with second in the non-too-flat Memorial Pantani and that was despite a crash in the 1.Pro Milano-Torino his second race, the first being the Gran Trittico Lombardo. Then came ‘lockdown’ and his first race back was the European Championships in Plouay, won by Giacomo Nizzolo; Hayter finished a crash-blighted 98th but next up was the Pantani and the podium...
A few weeks ago I posted on social media a picture of Davide Rebellin in his new Sovac-Natura4ever team strip for 2018; his 27th season as a professional. I commented that he was a ‘remarkable man.’ Immediately I was informed that I was, ‘glorifying a doper.’ When I responded by asking how he was any different to the pundits, TV commentators, self-styled fashion gurus and authors who have all fallen foul of the testers but are now accepted by the cycling community - no one could tell me. Former ‘cross star Barry Davies suggested that I organise an interview with the Italian; ‘good idea,’ I thought to myself.
Our old friend and former Six Day man, ‘Brit,’ Norman Hill suggested to us that we should ‘have a word’ with the man who was his Six Day ‘runner’ on the winter boards circuit back when there were up to 17 Six Day races every winter, Marvin Smart, who was also an innovator in the field of advertising on the actual track surface – such an important factor in a Six Day organiser’s budget plans.
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