Vuelta stage 14: Ryder on the wall

What started as a gentle roll-out for the riders turned into a nightmare in the last few kilometres. One of those wall-like climbs that we’re so familiar with at the Vuelta slowed the race to walking pace, and brought about what Eurosport’s Carlton Kirby described as a “slow-motion boxing match under water” – an odd but apt description. Ryder Hesjedal responded to recent bad luck and crazy talk by winning a stage that even the motorbikes were struggling to finish, snatching the win from a brave Oliver Zaugg, while the GC contenders duked it out further down the slopes.
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Vuelta a España: Postcards from Spain

We might all be back at VeloVoices Towers (with Panache ensconced in the Washington Peloton Pentagon), but two of our VeloEyes have kindly sent us pictures mainly from the last few stages which illustrate the advice Susi Goetze gave us in her VeloEye interview about where best to take photos at a race. Enjoy!

The morning sign-in is generally the easiest place to take photos of the riders. Unless you’re tall, get there early and be first in line against the barriers. The riders tend to file up in dribs and drabs. Although some will be clad ready for the day’s race, many are often helmetless, making identification so much easier and photos so much better. They’ll frequently stop to chat to the press, give autographs or  have their pictures taken with many of the waiting youngsters, thereby enthusing the next generation of riders.

Last year’s winner Juan Jose Cobo being interviewed at the sign-on by Juan Mari (image courtesy of RDW)

Valverde’s white wrist-watch has a Union Jack face. A memento of London 2012 perhaps?

Alejandro Valverde at sign-on (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Alberto Contador sharing a joke with Juan Mari (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

The enigmatic Denis Menchov making his way to the start (image courtesy of RDW)

Maxime Monfort, who complained fans kept confusing him with Basque team mate Markel Irizar (image courtesy of RDW)

Julian Dean doesn’t look too happy, does he? (image courtesy of RDW)

Daniele Bennati making his way to the start (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Of course, nowhere’s out of bounds to Susi. Here she makes a quick visit to see the Argonauts on their bus. We have to say it’s not quite as plush as the Sky one.

Scary Argonaut tan lines (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Argonauts keeping cool before the start in their ice packed vests (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

You may recall that Alejandro Valverde fell on one of the early stages in the Vuelta while wearing the red leader’s jersey and no one waited. The guy that came off worst in the crash was teammate Imanol Erviti, who’s still bearing the effects several days later. What you can’t see from the photograph is his heavily bandaged left leg and right arm.

Bearing his injuries with fortitude – Imanol Erviti (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Once the riders have been called to the start, there’s still 10-15 minutes of hanging about – another great photo opportunity. The boys usually take the time to catch up with their compatriots on other teams. They look so serious. Do you think these three were discussing the overnight news about [Lance] Armstrong?

Juan Antonio Flecha, Purito and Alejandro Valverde catching up on peloton gossip before the start (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Photographers need to keep their eyes peeled at all times for photo opportunities. Susi’s particularly adept at finding humourous situations.

Looks like Tony Martin’s jersey’s way too short, have OPQS run out of his size? (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

I think we know who he’s supporting! (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

The food zone’s another good spot for taking photos as the riders are forced to slow down to pick up their lunch. It’s also a great place to collect souvenirs – bidons and musettes – but you need to be fleet of foot to beat the waiting hordes of kids.

Alberto Contador in the feedzone (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Alternatively, find a spot on an incline where the crowds aren’t too thick and the riders are arriving in two, threes or even on their own.

Here’s a bunch of Movistar riders making their way up an incline (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Igor Anton giving it his best shot (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Purito leaving the rest for dust (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Frankly without accreditation it’s difficult to get these types of shots at the finish line. But it’s still worth a go.

John Degenkolb has dominated the sprint finishes (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Finally a win in 2012 for PhilGil (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

A better photo opportunity might be the podium or just past the finish line but again, unless you’re tall,  you’ll need to get in situ early.

An exhausted Jan Bakelants after the finish (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Alejandro Valverde heading to the podium (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Purito with his two children on the podium (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

To conclude, don’t forget to take a few shots of your wonderful surroundings to remind you where you were. Bike races visit some beautiful parts of the world.

Barcelona (courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Alto de Montjuic (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

Link: Vuelta a Espana official website

Tour de France analysis: Week 1 in numbers

Depending on how you look at it, we’re either one-third of the way through the Tour de France – because we’ve just arrived at the first rest day – or nearly halfway through it in terms of stages completed and total distance covered. However you choose to look at it, it’s been a pretty eventful race so far, so here’s a quick review of week one of the 2012 Tour in numbers.

The race

10 – Stages completed, out of a total of 21.

1,616.5 – Distance (in kilometres) covered so far, out of a total of 3,497. (That’s 46%, stat fans.)

1 – Summit finishes to date: La Planche des Belles Filles on stage seven. There are two still to come.

Stage winners

Sagan is the only three-time winner so far (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

7 – Number of different stage winners: Peter Sagan (three), Andre Greipel (two), Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Thibaut Pinot and Bradley Wiggins.

5 – Number of teams to have registered a stage win: Liquigas-Cannondale (three), Sky (three), Lotto-Belisol (two), RadioShack-Nissan and FDJ-Big Mat.

4 – Stages won by 22-year olds: Sagan (three), Pinot.

2 – Stages won by riders currently in the top 20 of the general classification: Froome (stage seven) and Wiggins (stage nine).

21 – Tour career wins for Mark Cavendish after his stage two victory.

16Peter Sagan‘s three victories to date take his 2012 win total to 16.

3 – For the first time ever, three British riders have won stages at the same Tour: Cavendish, Froome and Wiggins.

The yellow jersey

2 – Number of riders who have led the 2012 race: Fabian Cancellara (seven days) and Bradley Wiggins (three).

28 days in yellow for Cancellara (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

28Cancellara has now accumulated 28 days in yellow during his career – more than any non-overall winner, passing the record of Rene Vietto (26 days).

50Wiggins took the yellow jersey on stage seven on July 7th, one day after the 50th anniversary of the first British rider to claim the overall race lead: Tommy Simpson in 1962.

6 – Only six riders are within five minutes of the race leader in the general classification. A further six are between five and six minutes in arrears.

Other jerseys

32Peter Sagan leads the green jersey competition with 217 points, 32 more than second-placed Matt Goss. He has led the classification since winning stage one.

Morkov was the early leader of the mountains classification (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6 – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank’s Michael Morkov wore the King of the Mountains’ polka dot jersey for six days.

21Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) currently leads the mountains classification with 21 points. There are 27 points available on tomorrow’s stage alone.

42 – In seconds, Tejay van Garderen‘s advantage over Rein Taaramae in the young rider comperition. They are the only two riders to have worn the white jersey so far, although RadioShack’s Tony Gallopin is just three seconds behind Taaramae in third.


17  – Tour starts for BMC’s George Hincapie, a new record.

Zubeldia is the highest placed RadioShak rider in the GC (image courtesy of RadioShack-Nissan)

5 – Number of RadioShack-Nissan riders in the top 17 of the general classification: Haimar Zubeldia (sixth), Maxime Monfort (seventh), Tony Gallopin (13th), Andreas Kloden (15th) and Frank Schleck (17th).

23 – Since 2008, British riders have won 23 stages of the Tour (Cavendish 21, Wiggins and Froome one each) – only one fewer than between 1903 and 2007 .

21 – At the time of writing, there have been 21 abandonments from the race – this includes Tony Martin, who withdrew after yesterday’s time trial.

8 – Eight of the 21 riders to have quit the race are Spanish: Mikel Astarloza, Amets Txurruka, defending King of the Mountains Samuel Sanchez and Gorka Verdugo (all Euskaltel-Euskadi), J J Rojas, Imanol Erviti and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (all Movistar) and frmer green jersey and three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Katusha).

Some data courtesy of Infostrada Sports.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website