Stage 15: Alcalá la Real – Sierra Nevada. Alto Hoya de la Mora. Monachil
Stage 15: Alcalá la Real – Sierra Nevada. Alto Hoya de la Mora. Monachil
Sunday, 3rd September 2017
Sunday, 3rd September 2017

Spanish anthropology

Today was another shotgun stage to the finish, with one important difference; we had the morning free. Instead of shooting the stage 15 start, however, we took the opportunity to visit Don Àlvaro’s godparents, Ines and Pablo, who lived in Granada.

We arrived at the same time as the grandmother, who went straight to work preparing a Sunday tradition in many Spanish families; paella. I could smell the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen so I stuck my head and camera in to document her secrets. One big revelation was the process of cooking up the stock from the prawn shells (which I have now committed to memory and can’t wait to try myself).

The finished product looked so good! We were invited to stay for lunch and sample it but, alas, there just wasn't time. The race had already started and stage 15 was only 129 km long - the shortest stage of the race.

So we said our farewells and I was welcomed to come back and stay anytime. Soon I won't have to book any accommodation in Spain, as the hospitality is so welcoming.

The wild west theme I jokingly introduced for stage 13 has taken on a life of its own. Today’s stage finished in Sierra Nevada of all places! We have also noticed an alarming increase in people wearing cowboy hats. One guy was even getting around on horseback.

This could go one of 2 ways. The realist in me is adamant this is just a great anthropology lesson in the significant cultural influence the Spanish had in the creation of what comes to mind when we think of the American frontier (and that everyone, worldwide, rode horses at some stage).

On the other hand, the daydreamer in me is hoping this strange set of largely-insignificant coincidences continues - and that the whole thing takes on a western motif. I already have the right name for it - ‘Beardy’s Caravan’ - now I just need the right theme music to get around to. Where is Ennio Morricone when you need him?

Skating away

After yesterday's bus fiasco I was rather concerned about getting on another one (in order to shoot the featured climb). However, other than running into a police motorbike along the way, we didn't have too many problems. We hopped out early (with 1km to go), but ended up walking all the way to the top anyway.

Not finding a spot we were happy with, we started walking back down again - and even a little further - searching for the right location. It wasn't easy as the climb didn't have a steep gradient and the road was wide, the complete opposite to yesterday's finale. We were also running out of time.

Eventually, after much indecision, I settled on a spot above the road. The rocks were largely made up of slate, and very slippery underfoot. As I skated around near the edge, I was very careful not to knock any loose rubble onto the road below. As the riders passed I snapped away, before skating down the slate slope to capture images from the road.

After the last grupetto had passed, I walked back down to the press room. Luckily, this turned out to be much quicker than catching the bus.

The Don came back with some interesting news. He had been speaking to a member of the Guardia Civil that had recognised him from previous stages. He then went on to confess to being a Caravan fan - he was following me on Instagram and liked the photos!

“Wow” I said “I must find this guy”. Maybe this explains why I haven't been thrown from the course recently?
Making the red jersey
Stage 21: Arroyomolinos - Madrid
Stage 20: Corvera de Asturias - Alto de l'Angliru
Stage 19: Caso. Parque Natural de Redes - Gijón
Stage 18: Suances - Santo Toribio de Liébana
Stage 17: Villadiego - Los Machucos. Monumento Vaca Pasiega


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