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VUELTA’17 ROADSIDE St.9: The Climb To The Sun!
Vuelta'17 Roadside: After the excitement of the ascent of the Xorret de Cati and the mad drive across three Spanish regions on Saturday, Al Hamilton stationed himself on the climb to the Cumbre del Sol. The pack would take to the steep ramps to the sun twice in the finalé of Stage 9 and PEZ was there.

Maybe I got there too early?

The Cumbre del Sol is the top of the Alto de Puig Llorença and like many of the summit finishes in la Vuelta a España, there is one way up and the same way down. In 2015, the first time the Spanish Grand Tour used the steep coastal climb, I parked as near to the top as I could and walked to the finish line. Great views and saw Tom Dumoulin show his future promise. One big drawback - three hours to drive the 5 kilometers to the main road. This year I stationed myself at the bottom of the climb, at the steepest part and, hopefully, have a fast escape.

Local bar makes good!

To get to the finalé I joined the course with 74 kilometers to go with 30 kilometers to drive to the circuit with its two ascents. When I got there it looked like no one was around, except at the local bar who had set up a BBQ round the back, next to the course, and they were doing a fine trade.

No cars today, just garden furniture

As I walked up the stiff climb the people appeared hiding from the unforgiving sun's rays. The place was named well. The houses looked to be holiday homes, but the owners had brought their dinning rooms outside for the day.

Is that someone's front garden?

The bike fans had brought their picnic equipment and were taking advantage of any shade they could find.

A bit of shade for lunch

Further up there were many more spectators hiding in the small woods to have their lunch. They would all be out soon enough when the race was about to arrive, but first there was the publicity caravan.

Red hat anyone?

Carrefour is the main sponsor of the Vuelta, but they didn't seem to have as many vehicles in the caravan as last year, but sure they gave away as many hats.

The Cofidis hats were of a bit better quality and might last the whole summer

The personal loans company, Cofidis, were also throwing hats to the fans. They were made with better materials and were more prized by the crowds. Cofidis are a big sponsor of the Vuelta, I wonder if that has anything to do with the team always getting a 'Wild Card' invitation?

Pen or razor? Neither

Next up was Bic throwing out pens and razors, neither of which I got. A razor would have come in handy. There was also Caja Rural and Movistar in the publicity peloton of cars. We didn't have long to wait for the break to come into view and split to pieces at the same time.

Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ) and Luis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) split the break on the first climb

People seemed to just appear from nowhere and soon a fairly empty road had disappeared under a mob of humanity.

break rear-1
Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Diego Rubio (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport)

At the back of the break things were not looking so good for the others.

Tough time for Marco Haller

Katusha-Alpecin's Marco Haller is not really built for this sort thing. The wait for the peloton was less than two minutes.

The GC group

The craziness returned for the top men.

peloton 1
Fraile, Aru, Pantano and KOM Davide Villella

All the leaders were near the front as they rode together. Who do you spot?

froome 1

Chris Froome wasn't too far from the front.

Contador was on Froome's wheel the first time up the climb

It wasn't a day for Alberto Contador, but his Vuelta is not finished yet, expect more attacking from him in the next two weeks.

Not like Belgium

At the back of the peloton many were suffering.

Daniel Oss

It had been BMC's Alessandro De Marchi's birthday the day before, maybe that extra piece of cake wasn't a good idea for Daniel Oss.


Walking down the hill for a different view for the second ascent I came across a 'Native American' although he sounded Spanish to me and he was a Movistar fan.

Monkey business

Next up was an ape or gorilla, he also spoke Spanish, but who he was a fan of I never found out.

ape indian
Ape meets Indian

The two met and it was love at first sight, well maybe not, but they were bike fans so had something in common.

Colombians, always Colombians

There is always Colombians at the Vuelta and most other races these days. From what I heard there were many, many more at the summit.

gc group
Froome in the middle of it all

The break had been caught on the run-in to the second time up the Alto de Puig Llorença and everyone was looking at Chris Froome to make his move. That would have to wait for around 4 kilometers of tough climbing, but when it came there was no one to match the man from Nairobi.

Not far to go, but it's all up hill

The tail of the peloton was in tatters.

Haga and Hamilton

Chad Haga and Chris Hamilton had been working hard all day and had to make it to the finish the best they could, both finished around 10 minutes after Froome. And that fast escape? No chance, team busses had cornered me in, but at least it didn't take 3 hours.

Monday is Vuelta rest day, but stay tuned to PEZ for everything from Spain.


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