Volta a Catalunya offers Tour de France contenders a week of racing in sunny Spain. Mary took the train 45 minutes along the coast to Mataró, start of Stage 2. Alas, on a school day Lisa could not join in this adventure.
Sign warns that Volta will interrupt bus service (in Catalan, of course).
Mary enjoyed assorted architectural features of the town’s narrow streets.
Mary went slightly off-map, but a Trek Bike saleswoman’s map, gesturing and Spanish spoken slowly to the extranjero showed Mary the right streets. She finally found the race start at Parc Central. Sitting on a bench, she relaxed with the jubilados (retired people) soaking in the sun and watching crowds gather around the Coca Cola Firma truck, where all the cyclists would have to sign in (firma). She counted 48 motorcycle cops in safety yellow vests coming through the starting arch.
Crowds at the signature area.
Schools released their students and the crowd grew. I chatted with a fellow who thought that Contador or Froome would win the Volta and talked about how Campagnolo was the best company, ever, period, end of story (or something like that in Spanish). He was a distributor for Campagnolo in his working years. I asked him where the team buses might be, and he pointed to the road behind us. I sensed he was incorrect when I spotted a few guys in green Europcar team jerseys pedaling from the opposite direction.
I spotted a surprisingly tiny Tommy Voeckler, who would later spend some time in the breakaway (and almost take win the stage in the wretched wet finishing conditions). I walked in the direction of the departing green Frenchman and saw all the team cars and buses lined up and down the street. Kevin Reza, also on Team Europcar, rode by me. Didn’t have my camera out!
Team BMC cars ready for action.
Orica-Green Edge Bus. Remember what happened last year in Corsica?
Random Belkin rider cruises past Garmin bus.
I loitered briefly by the Movistar bus, and their cordoned off area of bikes, hoping for a glimpse of Tour contender Nairo Quintana.
Movistar rider, not Quintana, gets a jacket from the car.
Astana team gets ready to ride to signature area.
I returned to the Garmin bus where someone was actually speaking English and I met the team doctor, Kevin. We chatted briefly, about the challenges of spring allergy season for riders, then he went back on the bus.
Last minute adjustments for a Garmin rider.
I saw Alberto Contador ride by, then Chris Froome! I wasn’t expecting them to be so casually riding by, and didn’t have my camera ready. The Garmin boys slowly emerged, looking truly like boys because most of them are under age 25. I saw Tom Danielson who seemed to remember me from Tucson and we chatted briefly. He pointed at the clouds on the horizon and said he wasn’t looking forward to the predicted rain.
Meanwhile, a big TV camera is hovering about 18 inches from our faces. I feel famous for about three seconds. It’s NBC filming background stuff (B roll) for Tour de France coverage later this year. Tom and camera crew have to get to the start (and so do I!) because the gun will go off in less than five minutes.
I’m caught behind the crowds, but manage a few photos as riders gather behind the start archway.
Chris Froome fiddles with his computer at the start.
Nairo Quintana ignores dad and baby, and their body guard.
Kids shouting at riders, riders ignoring same.
Here’s a 46 second video of start:
I picked up a croissant for the road, and enjoyed my seaside train trip back to Barcelona.
© 2014 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.