Breakfast is sacred, the most important meal of the day. If you are a long time reader of the Caravan you will have heard me complaining about Italian breakfasts many times before. So much so that I now bring my own breakfast to the Giro.
I am fast discovering that Spain is not so different. The room we had been staying in for yesterday’s rest day, and now for stage 10 - the appropriately named ‘Executive Sport’ suite - included a free breakfast buffet, which initially had me excited (and was a big part of the reason why we booked this room). However, when we got there, it looked more like a confectionary buffet than anything I would usually associate with a hearty breakfast. Looks like I will be adopting a BYO policy for la Vuelta as well.
Don Àlvaro (check out his Instagram account) was a different story. After almost 2 weeks together, I thought I knew The Don’s Spanish breakfast routine down to the smallest detail. Namely, a small sweet cake (a Madeleine, or similar) washed down with a glass of orange juice.
However, watching him attack this confectionary buffet with such gusto got me thinking I might have been neglecting him all this time. No wonder his parents had come down to check on him - the plate of food that he prepared for himself was mountainous! “There is no way you are going to eat all that” I goaded, as he munched his way through a second chocolate-coated doughnut.
He did finish the plate, however, loading up with an obscene amount of sugar. His eyes were suddenly wide, and he was ready for action. Much like a Nintendo character who has ‘powered-up’, the music changed - and he was now moving faster, jumping higher and receiving double points.
I thought about sitting him down and talking basic nutrition (i.e. going easy on the sugar overload) - before he became The Diabetic Don. However, it seems that is just how the Spanish do breakfast - who am I to judge? It does put a new spin on the siesta though - a nation-wide sugar crash.
The rolling stone
Stage 10 was a half day on Beardy's Caravan. After so thoroughly enjoying the rest day, we decided to keep a good thing going, and extend it. We were also staying near the finish, so close, in fact, that I had ridden the final climb yesterday. This meant we could target one stop nearby (which we already knew), and minimise travel.
It was also, technically, another transfer stage - so we didn’t feel too bad. After the last such stage, when most of the press phoned it in, we figured today would be a similar affair. This transfer stage, however, had a nasty twist. With a category 1 climb, followed by a technical 20km descent to the finish, I was not even sure this qualified as a transfer. But at least we would be where the (likely only) action was.
I had a good idea where we needed to be, the only problem was finding a park. The road was extremely narrow, leaving very few places big enough to fit a car. As we edged further and further away from where I had planned to shoot, I became increasingly concerned that we might not find anything. Luckily, we soon spotted a nook just large enough to accommodate the Škoda.
Still, it was going to be a challenge to shoehorn it in. The Don and I got out of the car and vigorously discussed various potential angles of approach. We decided on a backwards approach with a 45 degree angle, which we believed had the best chance of success.
It almost worked, until one of the rear wheels lifted in the air and the front wheels started slipping in the mud. Various onlookers wandered over to join the think tank, giving the Don their expert opinions. However, it was rock that I jammed under the lifted wheel that gave us the grip we needed to make it off the road. The crowd cheered and we gave them all Škoda bidons and stickers to thank them for their enthusiastic support.
The walk back to the spot was considerable, but we had time up our sleeves so we ambled along, enjoying the view. Suddenly, the yellow flag motorbikes flew past - confusing us greatly. The road book listed the riders as arriving at the bottom of the climb at approximately 5pm, and it was only 4. There was little time to protest, though, as the red flags started to appear - meaning we now had to run just to make the spot. We could see the leaders on the road below.