Resuming normal programming
Stage 2 was a day for ironing out the creases and getting back into a grand tour routine. Yesterday had been an exception to the general rule, ditching the car at the hotel, and becoming embroiled in a potential terrorist incident that, luckily, in this case, turned out to be false alarm. Today we resumed normal programming, and our Škoda Octavia got its first taste of #caravanlife.
Our day began by driving to the start line. For today’s stage 2 we wanted to capture as much of the action and pageantry around the start as possible, opting to leave after the riders had rolled out. Still, we were made to earn our shots. 30mins of time evaporated trying to get to the parking area, before we abandoned that plan completely in favour of a spot closer to the race route.
The start of a La Vuelta stage made for a nice change from the typical Le Tour fare - other than the all-too-familiar parking fiasco. There are noticeably less photographers and more opportunity to get close to the riders, who, in turn, seem more approachable and relaxed.
There had been a lot of talk about the likelihood of strong crosswinds having a major influence on today's stage. Contador went so far as to suggest stage 2 could possibly be as important in determining the GC classification as a high mountain stage. All indications were that the wind could, potentially, shatter the peloton into a million pieces, so the riders, particular BMC, would need to be on their game if they were to protect their slender lead.
Perch of the day
Our first stop along the race route was what I thought (or hoped) would be the windiest point of the stage. It was a narrow sand spit running through wetlands. Fortunately, it also looked like a nice place to shoot the riders.
However, when we arrived (after a slight diversion courtesy of a new highway that wasn't yet on the GPS map - a good reminder that you always need to run double GPS when grand tour chasing), I was a little disappointed as the wind had almost completely dropped off and the spot didn't look anywhere near as impressive as it did on Google Maps.
There was one saving grace, however, a signpost located in just the right position on the side of the road. After assessing it for stability (i.e. shaking it back and forward vigorously), I climbed up and perched on top. The elevated view transformed the wetlands, and we were back in the game. Álvaro and I even had a few moments to practice our wildlife photography. I snapped birds taking off from the water's surface, before they blown away by the helicopter. Álvaro snapped a Beardy in its natural habitat.
As the police motorbikes flew past below, they each gave me a nod of acknowledgement. I was happy to know my efforts hadn't gone unnoticed, or, more accurately, that they had noticed me and, on this occasion at least, weren’t going to rip me down and confiscate my accreditation!
Gone with the wind
The rest of the day was a relatively stress-free affair. We made it to the finish with enough time to visit the pressroom for a couple of snacks and a bit of photo editing before the riders arrived. The wind had picked up by now, nearing the gale force levels we were anticipating, and it seemed like this would be one of the first 200km stages I’d witnessed without a single breakaway. That was until the finishing straight, where Yves Lampaert finally got away to seal the stage win and snare the leader’s jersey.
Tomorrow we hit the first mountain stage, finishing in Andorra. Be sure to tune in as it is sure to be an exciting one!