So, slowly the professional road cycling season is starting. The Tour Down Under is generally a little anticlimactic. The Tour de San Luis is probably rather good but the TV coverage is so “homemade” as to be unwatchable. Most of the stars are still off doing other stuff somewhere else (looking at power meters, generally starving themselves).
But, being the lucky guy I am, a reasonable race is coming by quite soon – the Tour of Andalucia (Andalusia), the “Sun Route”.
I can’t decide whether Stage 3 or 4 is the “Queen Stage”. Stage 3 features a similar climb as in the 2013 Vuelta to “Haza Llanas”, which is where I hope to be:
Stage 4 is the longest stage with multiple category 3 climbs and an “explosive” final climb into Alto de las Allanadas, en La Guardia de Jaén:
Haza Llanas is a classic climb. I didn’t make it up there in 2013 (not that I tried and failed but instead I decided to watch on an earlier part of the stage) and actually didn’t miss much as Chris Horner did his thing and blew away Nibali and everyone else. It was as impressive as it was … “incredible”. This time I’d like to see a more even competition, especially as the stage is quite short. On the other hand, one of the main names that tends to appear in this race each year is Alejandro Valverde, who is undeniably talented but also not on my list of favorite racers.
According to ciclo21.com, the poster for this year’s event is “an image which evokes the ‘retro’ style of the golden years of cycling. It is based on the old style posters for a simple reason: we want to reflect the effort and purity of other times…”
It’s a bit contrived but in fact maybe that’s what we should go with – leave behind all the doubts and rumours and past problems, break from the training programme to get up a hard, beautiful and iconic climb, commune with other road and mountain bikers, and enjoy the competition. Of course it will be hard and emotional and inspiring; that’s why in spite of everything we still love it.