FanPost

Albertina at the Vuelta, Part 1: of Cantabrian Mountains and Igor Anton

I am writing to you from a dull and dingy office in south west Essex, and am mournful of visage, for there are no mountains here, no white farmhouses with red roofs, no pintxos, no txakoli and no men in orange. I am no longer in Euskal Herria, and am thus in need of a hug. This week I lived the dream, and I hope to live it over again in my memories as I write this. UrlaubInPolen, known by many as Urbs (which is easier), went to stages 17, 19 and 20 of the Vuelta. We cheered with the masses on Peña Cabarga, were swept up in the euphoria of a Basque victory in Bilbao, and joined the orange wave on the Urkiola. I never, ever, wanted to leave.

 

We started not in the Basque Country, but in Cantabria. We flew to Santander and stayed there for a night, using it as our base to make an assault on Peña Cabarga the next day. We were a little unsure as to whether this would work, relying as we were entirely on public transport, but set out the following morning by train to the village of Heras (that name sound familiar?) and walked to the base of the climb. Two flat kilometers belied the pains of what was to come. I’d really rather have travelled uphill for 6kms at 9.2% (going up to over 18%) on a bike; I swear I used muscles which have lain dormant for years! Walking down really did it for us. We felt arthritic for days.

 

Here's the climb from Santander, on the night before the stage:


 316327_774347581110_202903195_39654240_2017918212_n_medium

And here it is again, from Heras station. It doesn't look much here, but believe me, on foot (or by bike), it is:

309560_774349407450_202903195_39654282_387635566_n_medium

TXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXU!
313812_774350270720_202903195_39654307_1496005583_n_medium 
318584_774351168920_202903195_39654341_1162943422_n_medium 

That's a fake Carrot on the left:
304676_774350620020_202903195_39654319_199847445_n_medium 
317766_774351223810_202903195_39654343_1031551307_n_medium 
295925_774351518220_202903195_39654351_502595056_n_medium

Will, just for you. Aren't I kind? 

301008_774351538180_202903195_39654352_1223961078_n_medium 
305305_774351493270_202903195_39654350_1796666489_n_medium 
317790_774351977300_202903195_39654364_1626366639_n_medium 
312492_774353334580_202903195_39654401_1654698677_n_medium 

TXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXU!
302311_774352286680_202903195_39654372_586688798_n_medium 
316259_774352835580_202903195_39654388_343998644_n_medium 
296979_774353179890_202903195_39654398_1412424066_n_medium 
321690_774353434380_202903195_39654403_283387182_n_medium 
319512_774353923400_202903195_39654406_641016241_n_medium 

Upon arriving back in Santander after the stage, we headed straight to the bus station and made haste to Bilbao. On the day of Stage 19, we wandered down to the Gran Via early and staked out a spot just past the finish line. It was a very hot day, 38C at 6pm, so likely pushing 40 earlier on, so much water was consumed in waiting for the riders to arrive. This was an event. Whoever had won it would have been, but what happened as the race unfolded was indescribable. The Vuelta was back in the Basque Country for the first time in 33 years, and all Bilbao was bedecked in orange, thronging the city centre several deep for a glimpse of the action. We had a big screen in view so could see events play out as the protagonists wound their way to Galdakao and back. The noise was immense when the break came through for the first time, with both Anton and Verdugo present, but this was nothing when set aside the roar as the former attacked on the climb above his home town, in front of family and friends on the roads he knew from childhood. Surely this was a dream? Surely the miracle couldn’t happen? We were unable to understand much of the commentary as it was in a mixture of Spanish and Basque, but we knew enough of both to pick up the time gap which was given as each kilometer ticked by…27 seconds, 30, 32, 34, 40…it was on, and the ecstatic throng knew it. The tension was unbearable, sweaty palms, silent prayers, and then in the distance a diminutive figure in orange, surrounded by a flotilla of cars and motorbikes, looking at the same time magnificent and somehow vulnerable. Magic. As he came across the line, pumping his fists and slapping the Euskaltel logo on his jersey, we were there. We will never forget it.


 312885_775926462020_202903195_39675245_2108191231_n_medium

We watch and wait....

316667_775926711520_202903195_39675255_189483264_n_medium

We were quite a way from the podium, but I think these pictures capture the joy of the local boy suitably!


297706_775927285370_202903195_39675269_1077286605_n_medium 
311069_775928073790_202903195_39675284_2068108057_n_medium

MY bus!!
  317045_775928532870_202903195_39675304_445806505_n_medium

TXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXUTXU!!!!!!!!!!!

295848_775928657620_202903195_39675310_1717221888_n_medium

In Part 2, we pay Movistar a visit and scale the Urkiola! Stay tuned!

Loading comments...

Trending Discussions