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La Vuelta a Espana

posted 13 Sep 2010, 13:38 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 13 Sep 2010, 15:07 ]
(By Shay O'Toole 12 Sept.2010)
As already stated, I was off on a little holiday this week and where else would one go but to the Tour of Spain or, to give it its correct title, La Vuelta a Espana. Although not as hectic as the Tour de France, this is one of the three Grand Tours and it was an unbelievable experience to see some of the world’s top cyclists in action.
 
The circus-like atmosphere that surrounds a race like this has to be seen to be believed as a cavalcade of at least 200 vehicles escorts it around Spain. With a very relaxed scene compared to the Tour de France it is possible to get up close and even personal with these iron men of the road. We were lucky enough follow two stages, so took in a finish and a start in the Barcelona region and a mountain climb in Andorra. With two Irish competitors, Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan taking part there was an extra dimension to our interest.
 
The former went on to perform extremely well and is currently lying in fifth 5th place overall, however Deignan continued his recent run of bad form and abandoned the race due to ill health. The finish is in Madrid next Sunday so keep an eye on the telly as there is a real chance that an Irish man could be on the podium.
 
Coincidentally, whilst we were boarding the flight home I got a tip on the shoulder and when I turned there was Deignan asking me was I the guy he was chatting to at the start line only three days previously. Not surprisingly, being a Donegal man, he was full of chat all the way home and although he didn’t jump at my invite to join Lakeside Wheelers for a spin whilst he is in Ireland he didn’t totally refuse either so who knows, he may be in ORS some Sunday soon. Either way, it was very interesting to hear all the news about the pro-tour from the horse’s mouth and with an optimists outlook, maybe it is a sign that the sport has turned a corner from the days of drugs and cheating as there is no doubt that in another era someone like Philip Deignan would have been “attended” to by the team “doctor” and instead of sitting on a plane talking to me he would have been still in the peloton heading for Madrid. 
 
Yours truly and Nicolas Roche at Villanova i la Geltru La Vuelta 2010...
 

Up close and personal... with super sprinter Mark Cavendish
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