The Circuito de Navarra and La Rioja: It’s Stage 16 of #Vuelta2017

The peloton has had a much-needed day off after two hellacious stages in the mountains. You might assume that they’d feel feisty and fresh, ready to mount their bicycles and attack the course. But that’s the funny thing about Grand Tour races: rest days don’t always have a positive effect on the riders. Some do, indeed, come back fully recovered and on their game. Others aren’t so lucky. It’s as if their bodies, pushed to the limit over two grueling weeks, engineer a complete biological and mental shut-down. All systems on lock. ¡No más!

Alto Hoya de la Mora Unipublic Photogomez Sport
Alto Hoya de la Mora from Stage 15 (photo: Unipublic/Photogomez Sport)

So, while we have only five days until the finale in Madrid, overall outcomes are anything but assured. Tuesday’s race is an individual time trial, in which each rider races solo against the clock, with no teammates alongside to help. It’s a difficult discipline to master, and it tends to favor the bigger riders and sprinters. Chris Froome, currently in first place, is an excellent time trialist, and we’d expect him to put his rivals on the defensive today. But, like I’ve said many times, you never know. Anything can happen! Continue reading “The Circuito de Navarra and La Rioja: It’s Stage 16 of #Vuelta2017”

Granada: Home to the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevada, and Stage 15 of #Vuelta2017

I’m really excited for Sunday’s stage: we’re heading to Granada, one of my favorite Spanish cities! If you’ve been there, I don’t have to explain at all because this magical municipality has already won you over with her charms. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada is a bustling university town full of shops, bars, and restaurants. Despite its being chock-full … Continue reading Granada: Home to the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevada, and Stage 15 of #Vuelta2017

Will the Real Amontillado Please Stand Up? #Vuelta2017 Stage 14

We race into the outskirts of Córdoba today, a city with a rich and multicultural past.  It was captured by invading Islamic armies in the 8th century, when it was named Qurtubah and annexed into the Caliphate of Córdoba.  At that time, the city was one of the most populous in Europe and was a center for advanced education – universities and medical schools were … Continue reading Will the Real Amontillado Please Stand Up? #Vuelta2017 Stage 14

Rules – Who Needs ‘Em? #Vuelta2017 Stage 13 and the Condado de Huelva DO

Friday’s stage moves us to the northwest, toward the Atlantic coast. The race route cuts through Jerez, birthplace of the solera system and sherry and, surprisingly enough, home to quite a few cattle and horse ranches. Inland, the terrain is rugged and mountainous but, closer to the coast it flattens and cools, thanks to the ocean breezes. And our destination city, Tomares, sits just outside of Sevilla, capital of the region of Andalucía and the only river port in Spain.

Plaza de Espana at sunny day in Seville, Spain
Plaza de España in Sevilla, Spain (photo by Kavalenkava)

We begin Stage 13 in Coín, built along the valley of the Rio Grande. Throughout its history Coín has always been a center of trade: fertile soils were a reliable source of fruit and vegetables, and the nearby quarries supplied marble and iron ore to builders all over Spain. According to some accounts, Hadrian, a future emperor of Rome, was born just outside the city’s border. It’s possible: historians agree that he was indeed, born in Spain; in exactly which city, however, is up for debate. But for purposes of this post, we’ll go with it! Continue reading “Rules – Who Needs ‘Em? #Vuelta2017 Stage 13 and the Condado de Huelva DO”

Sierras, Smugglers, and Sunshine: Welcome to Andalucía and Stage 12 of #Vuelta2017

  Thursday, we trade the shimmering rocky beaches of the Costa Blanca for the seaside resorts of the Costa del Sol. The peloton will spend the next few days in the southern reaches of Spain, specifically Andalucía. It’s a large region, home to such diverse cities as Jerez, Seville, Málaga, and Granada. A stronghold of Moorish rule, Andalucía remained under their control long after they … Continue reading Sierras, Smugglers, and Sunshine: Welcome to Andalucía and Stage 12 of #Vuelta2017

Bullas: Where Religious Pilgrims Meet Monastrell in #Vuelta2017 Stage 10

You might think a rest day would afford the riders a chance to recuperate, replenishing their energy and enthusiasm to get back in the saddle and sally forth. But it’s a funny thing, that rest day: it sometimes leads to mental and physical breakdowns on the first day back. No one really understands why some riders benefit from a day off and others don’t; all … Continue reading Bullas: Where Religious Pilgrims Meet Monastrell in #Vuelta2017 Stage 10

Wines of Alicante and the Costa Blanca: #Vuelta2017 Stage 9

Sunday’s stage is flat, flat, flat, all the way to the 130 km marker and the Category 2 Alto de Puig Llorença. The peloton will then scramble through the intermediate sprint, and then attack the Category 1 Cumbre del Sol/El Poble Nou de Benitatxell and the summit finish.  Our departure point, the city of Orihuela, was once ruled by the Visigoths and served as the … Continue reading Wines of Alicante and the Costa Blanca: #Vuelta2017 Stage 9