HELP ME RONDA
The photographer is complaining. You see, the writer was supposed to be accompanying the photographer for the whole first week of the Vuelta, but now can’t. Work has called him away. That’s how it goes sometimes. The photographer will just have to drive the silly little car (more like a roller skate – a Lancia something-or-other) himself and get on with it.
But the photographer hates the silly little car and can’t understand why the stupid writer didn’t upgrade at the hire car desk, as was offered. This Lancia Whatever, the size of a Fiat 500 but with only half a horse under the bonnet, struggles on the slightest incline. Photo man will be heading into the hills tomorrow, and now he is also struggling.
But most of all, most of all, what the photographer is struggling with is spending his birthday alone in Ronda. The writer was supposed to be taking him out for a slap-up meal on Rouleur expenses and has neatly swerved his obligations. This Spanish road trip was supposed to be about fine food and drink. Now it is ruined. The writer feels bad, but what can he do?
So the photographer, his day’s work done, wanders the streets of Ronda on the Hemingway trail, visiting the bullring, eating braised bulls’ tails and sipping a very decent glass of local red.
Now the photographer doesn’t feel so bad after all. He pops his head round the corner of the Tinkoff-Saxo mobile kitchen, where Hannah, the team chef, has finished work for the day. “Come on in,” says Hannah, delighted to see the photographer, and on his birthday, too.
She simply must cook for the photographer. She insists. It’s his birthday after all. Only then, Bjarne Riis arrives. He’s the boss. He may wonder why Hannah is cooking dinner for this random photographer. “It’s his birthday,” Hannah explains.
Bjarne elbows the pro chef out of the way. He conjures up a fine dish of gambas with garlic and parsley, washed down with a fine fino sherry.
The photographer had a very good birthday after all. And the writer really enjoyed hearing all about it. Really.
La Vuelta: Kitchen Confidential – a week on the road with the team chefs – will appear in issue 50, coming soon.
STAT'S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
9 - Number of Tours of Britain finished in a row by Kristian House. "The Dude" abides.
6 – Number of different leaders in the eight-day 2014 Tour of Britain.
Ahead of Saturday's Memorial Marco Pantani, a tribute to the climbing skills of the late Italian legend.
"They're spreading out a bit now as they near... What's the name of it? Ah, that's the place." Old-school Tour of Britain footage.
Make-or-break for Merckx in Mexico.