Roadside St.21: A 1,100 kilometre round trip to Madrid is not something I would consider doing in one day to see a bike race, but it is the Vuelta a Espaсa, it’s been the most exciting Grand Tour of the year and, most importantly I could meet up with PEZ mate Ed Hood. What more encouragement did I need?
It may have been Good Friday during the Easter holidays, but Paul Shewen was in his Kampala office and ready to answer our questions before he jetted off to cover Paris-Roubaix for NBC Sports. As always, Paul had lots to say, and - as usual - it was all very interesting and insightful. Paul and I have not spoken for quite a few years, but it felt like just yesterday that we were together in a team car somewhere in Europe.
It’s not all World Tour teams, Tour and Classic winners and International Professionals here at the PEZ Spanish HQ. The guys at Rapha Condor-Sharp might not be riding the Tour or the Giro this year, but the team is organized like they are and the riders attitude is just like any Continental Pro. A day with Rapha Condor-Sharp in Benidorm!
Day One was all about the bikes and the interviews with the star riders. Day Two was the official BMC team presentation. Afterwards we had a chance to take some photos of the boys out on a training ride going up the hills behind the village of Pego. I learnt a big lesson today: always make sure you have diesel in your car before you go chasing after bike riders! It was very close to a disaster, but it seems my car can run on fumes.
A day with Garmin-Barracuda was followed by two days with the BMC team. Both teams have their ways of doing things, but both are professionals. The most notable thing I noticed was the how much more interest there was in the BMC team compared to last year. The difference a Tour win can make and signing two of the biggest names from the Classics.
Training camp time of year is probably the busiest time of year (for me) around this area. Astana, RadioShack, BMC, Quick-Step, Euskaltel-Euskadi, GreenEdge, Cofidis, Vacansoleil and many other smaller teams converge in this part of the Spanish coast for hard training in the mountains. I try to visit as many teams as I can, and this time round, it was the Garmin-Barracuda team who opened their doors to the press and with a nice lunch too!
It's Best Of Week on PEZ, as we bid adieu to the big Holiday weekend and gear up for New Year's. For this Monday, we'll keep the Alastair Hamilton theme going and opt for his pick - the 2011 Quick-Step training camp - to go along nicely with yet another excellent EuroTrash. Read on!
Roadside:It’s still hot here in Spain and the racing doesn’t look like it will cool off either. It’s not all fun and games following a bike race you know! No lunch, constant air-conditioning and driving like a rally driver to stay with the action has its draw-backs...I wouldn’t swap it for anything!
Roadside: Another HOT day in Spain on La Vuelta, but at least this time I was in the car and it was a proper road stage with a bit of movement involved! The day started quietly and ended in a sprint that would have suited Philippe Gilbert down to the ground. Sky made up for yesterdays team time trial fiasco with a very nice win for Chris Sutton at the beach.
Roadside: At last; stage 1 of the 2011 La Vuelta a Espaсa has rolled off down the ramp and the first results are there to be seen. Leopard-Trek had a great ride and Sky had a terrible one! I on the other hand had a very nice day at the beach, but it was very hot down there and not just the weather, but also the racing!
Roadside Preview: Day 2 and it's all go at La Vuelta with press conferences and team presentations to attend. Lots to see but not much to eat...this is not normal for La Vuelta! Could be the crisis I guess? Anyway, pizza on the way home will have to do today; here is what I got up to on Vuelta start minus one!
Roadside Preview: Yes, it's Vuelta time again, and as the race starts just down the road, I had a leisurely first day sorting a few things out, meeting old friends and looking at race bikes. The day was perfect and washed down with a “Menu del Dia” it couldn’t be bettered, except maybe a race thrown in would make it more interesting! Lots of that to come over the next three weeks.
Team training camps are a nice way to meet the riders and staff, there's not the same pressures as at a race, it's more laid back and like meeting up with old mates on their holidays...well it feels that way for me, but then I’ve not been doing seven hour rides every day! The yearly invite came from Quick-Step and as usual I was there...
Say Arrivederci to the Giro as it’s almost Bonjour to Le Tour. We’ve got the latest on the ASO/UCI punch-up as well as the tune up events in Luxembourg and France. Stateside, it’s Philly and a full-up Nature Valley as well as Johan serving up some bedtime reading. It’s a global ET and it’s full today.