The Vuelta de España, Spain’s biggest cycle race and some would say a tougher test than the more famous Tour de France, gets underway In Marbella this August.
For the first time the three-week-long race will start in the town, with competitors arriving in Puerto Banus via boat and then racing along the seafront to finish on the beach in Marbella.
Although the start of the event will get huge media coverage in cycle-mad Spain, where names such a Delgado and Contador are mentioned in reverent tones, not everyone in Marbella is happy that the race is coming to town.
The job of getting Marbella’s paseo in a condition for racing has caused considerable disruption, with large sections of the walkway being worked on. Along with the noise and dust that this has created, there have also been incidents where access to the beaches has been disrupted. Several beach bars have complained that their takings during what should be their busiest period have suffered dramatically.
The current Town Hall blames its predeccesor for the disruption, claiming that they had months to make the changes and did nothing.
Cycling has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons several times over the past few years, most noticably the Operation Puerto trial, which resulted in several leading names being called before a Spanish judge to testify in their involvement in drug cheating.
I interviewed Lance Armstrong’s right hand man, Tyler Hamilton, and he was open and honest about the scale of the cheating that took place – seemingly everyone was at it.
I’ve never been a huge fan of cycling, and even less so since I moved up to my place near Istán, a road that resembles a mini Tour de France most weekends as I’m stuck behind some sweating fat guy in Lycra. I used to pay good money for that kind of experience in my wild lifestyle days, but they are now way behind me.
My only saving grace is that I can now yell “Drug Fiends!!!” at the startled cyclists as I finally get past. I know it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but it’s a simple pleasure…
This year’s Vuelta de España starts on August 22 from Puerto Banus