Alberto Contador, biking, Cantabria, Chris Froome, Comillas, cycling, Juanjo Cobo, La Vuelta, Lance Armstrong, Northern Spain, Picos de Europa, Potes, Road Race, San Vicente de la Barquera, Santillana del Mar, sports, Tour de France
The riders in Spain´s premier cycling race enjoyed one hell of a ride today…hope they had time to enjoy the spectacular places they rode through… here is what they flew by today in Cantabria, Northern Spain. Not a bad ride…
La Vuelta is our version of the Tour de France or the Giro de Italia. Those are the big three in the cycling world with the Tour obviously the best known. Here is the official website if you want to check out La Vuelta details.
La Vuelta came through Cantabria today on a magnificent stage that started at sea level in Santander (our capital) and ended up in Fuente De in the heart of the Picos de Europa mountain range. Today´s stage ended up more than likely being the deciding stage in the 2012 Vuelta. Cantabria´s mountainous terrain usually never disappoints so its always fun to get out and see the stages that come through. We had three of them here last year, only one in 2012, but what a stage.
I had wanted to go up to Fuente De to see the finish at the top but had to be near Santander this morning so saw it on the coast. I chose a good long stretch near Liencres because of the nice coastal views and it was long enough to see the riders for more than a flash (although it was fast anyway).
I´ll get back to my stretch later as I want to give you my play by play of the incredible places the riders got to go by today, a Cantabrian cycling tour if you will, albeit at a professional rider impossible pace. I´ll slow it down for you using my pics of the areas they rolled through today.
They started in Santander, my birthplace and which just happens to sit on one of the most beautiful bays in the world… call me a liar if you disagree.
The riders took off from Santander and headed west down the coast to where I was waiting, near Liencres. This is a better shot of the area from the air (took these aerials from a helicopter last year).
I waited patiently and the troops (literally) started to arrive. It began with…
From here they headed along the Pas river, eventually crossing it to go through Mogro.
They then headed interior a bit going through Torrelavega, Cantabria´s nondescript second largest city, where I happened to stumble upon them again as I went to the hardware store for some paint!
After Torrelavega the race headed to go through some of Cantabria and Northern Spain´s loveliest towns, including Santillana del Mar, Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera.
The tough part of the race then began leaving the rolling hills of the coast and up into the mountains via the Nansa River valley, crossing up, over and back down to the Deva River Valley in the middle of La Hermida gorge. Here is what they saw…
They rode out of the gorge and into the lovely mountain town capital of Liebana, Potes, and continued up to Fuente De, an ancient glacial cirque surrounded by the Picos de Europa, where the stage finished.
Wish I had gone to the finish at Fuente De. Alberto Contador (who won the tour twice but was stripped a la how Armstrong will be now), Spain´s premier cyclist these days, won the stage beating the leader by more than 2 minutes. He almost certainly won La Vuelta on today´s stage 17 after trailing through 16 stages. Alejandro Valverde is just under 2 minutes behind him but that is an eternity given that the mountain stages are over and all Contador has to do is keep him in his sights… but anything is possible.
Hope you enjoyed seeing the part of Northern Spain that La Vuelta went through today, beautiful but you´d better be in good shape to do it on a bike! Northern Spain is usually a deciding factor in who wins La Vuelta (although the Pyrenees are also quite a bit). The mountain stages in Cantabria and Asturias are where many of Spain´s Vueltas have been lost or won. Here are a few parting shots from my outing last year at a mountain finish at Peña Cabarga in Cantabria, where 2011 La Vuelta winner and Cantabrian, Juanjo Cobo, battled it out with this years 2012 Tour de France winner, the UK´s Chris Froome. Juanjo Cobo lost this stage by a hair but eventually ended up winning the entire thing after one last mountain stage in Northern Spain going from Cantabria to the Basque Country.