Home away from home
Following yesterday’s wet-and-wild stage 11 epic (and a long drive afterwards), a later-than-normal start to stage 12 was much appreciated by all on Team Beardy. It was also a chance to go and visit my cousin's in-laws, Socorro and Cesar, who live in La Herradura, a 35 min drive from today’s start town of Motril.
Arriving in the quaint seaside town, Socorro came down to meet us - welcoming Don Àlvaro and myself in via an enormous hug and kiss on each cheek. They had been following our adventures and sat us down for a for a proper breakfast, with The Don serving as translator.
Nothing beats feeling at home thousands of kilometres from your actual home. This was reinforced when Socorro kindly reminded us both that we were welcome back at any time. Looking at the beach out the window, I was firmly of the opinion that I would be taking them up on their offer in the not-too-distant future.
Still, shortly afterwards we had to, reluctantly, shake off the relaxing holiday vibes of La Herradura and get back to work capturing stage 12. However, not before Socorro made us a couple of sandwiches to take with us, along with another big hug and kiss. Spanish hospitality really is incredible - The Don was made to feel like an honorary family member, with both my almost-cousins embracing him as their own.
We munched away on our sandwiches in the car - Don Àlvaro commenting that they were way better than any of my #dashboarddelicacies to date.
I had found a nice spot looking back to the nature reserve just outside La Herradura. The goat track up to my spot was legitimate (i.e. it had actual goats on it), however they were wise to me trying to sneak up on them, meaning I only caught a glimpse of them disappearing over the near-vertical edge.
The view down to the beach was sublime. As I watched people frolicking in the sea (and as sweat beads rolled down my face), I thought back to yesterday when I was huddled in the car with five layers (and heated seats) on.
Given this was one of the shortest stages (at only 160km), we had to be quick to catch the riders on the first climb of the day. The procession of team cars, all with a similar itinerary, helped our cause as we tried to leap-frog the riders. However, they didn’t make it easy for us - averaging 50kph ahead of the climb!
The climb snaked up the very dry vegetation (baking under the hot sun) and even featured a couple of big old eucalyptus trees. With the shimmering sea behind them, I couldn’t help but feel I was somehow back in Australia. However, that was where the similarities ended, as the crowds of spectators started yelling “venga vamos!” at the approaching riders.
More of the same
After the last rider had passed, we high-tailed it straight to the finish, scoring a rockstar park right in front of the press centre. We had also made it with time to spare - allowing us the luxury of some valuable time to plan our approach. On a day like this, when everything goes to plan, we try to savour every moment - because they don’t come around that often!
It had been so long since we had captured a stage finish that it felt like a novelty hanging with all the other photographers. There had been plenty of action with breakaways and crashes, making it about as exciting as a finish gets. I hovered around trying to capture all the details.
One thing I hadn’t missed was the podium fiasco. I can confirm that la Vuelta hasn’t yet taken on any of my advice, instead offering up more of the same. There was a long delay as Froomie got patched up by the doc. The poor guy even had a plaster on his thumb!