Sunday, August 26, 2018

2018 Vuelta a España, Stage 1

I've collected all the photos I took during yesterday's trip to Málaga to see the opening stage of the 2018 Vuelta a España. As a long time fan of pro-cycling, it was a lot of fun to see all of this stuff in person. There are three "grand tours" in cycling each year: Giro d'Italia in May, Tour de France in July and Vuelta a España in late-Aug/Sep. Each of the races is 3 weeks long with one race per day called stages. Stages are held in different locations around the country and are typically arranged end-to-end in a kind of circuit of the country. The locations of the stages change each year. This year, the Vuelta starts in Málaga which sits on the Mediterranean about 200km south of us in here Sevilla. Laura and I took a bus down there yesterday morning, spent the night and returned to Sevilla today:
It was a nice trip and really our first opportunity to see the landscape surrounding us here in southern Spain.  This whole region is dry and hot and essentially a giant olive grove:
Málaga is a lovely beach town complete with giant ferris wheel:
Already we saw cycling team buses as we walked from the bus station to the hotel:
 This the view along the beach in front of our hotel:
 There are a lot of lovely gardens in the city:
 This was the view from our balcony. The race route went right past. We watched riders warming up along the course for many hours prior to the start of the race:
 The route went past this fountain:
This first stage is a short individual time trial. Each of the 180 riders rides the short 8km course alone at 1 minute intervals. They complete the course and their time sets the initial order (1st, 2nd, etc) moving forward. They finish in roughly 10 mins with the slowest riders finishing in around 10 mins 30 seconds and the fastest around 9 mins 45 secs. They each start in turn on an elevated platform with a ramp down by the port:
They get onto the streets of Málaga:
 Each rider has a motorcycle police escort:
All around the route, there are fan activies, this was some kind of group dancing:
 The course is lined with fencing and there were a lot of Spanish flags:
 The course ends on the very slick marble pavers in the high end district:
 Cameras were everywhere, including on 3 helicopters holding station in the skies above:
 This is the finish line:
 After the finish, there's a long run out that loops the riders back to their trailers:
 During that loop, riders stop to talk to press and friends:
 Here's a rider heading back down to his bus:
Amazingly, all of this stuff is taken down and put up somewhere else in less than 24 hours, over and over, for three weeks. It's an impressive logistical accomplishment.

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