The Vuelta’s “stage zero” is pretty seamless for most riders: getting from home to the race start in Benidorm.
So, spare a thought for Team Sky man Chris Froome, whose simple plane trip to the Vuelta on Wednesday afternoon turned into a sixteen-hour schlepp.
“It was a nightmare. I left my [Monaco] home at ten in the morning, I got to the airport to find they’d delayed my flight for two hours, delayed it again for another two hours – then they cancelled it altogether,” he told Cycling Weekly.
He had planned on going Nice to Paris and on to Alicante, arriving at the team’s hotel in Benidorm in the afternoon; instead, he had a ten-hour wait on the French Riviera.
“I was sitting there from eleven in the morning to nine thirty, when I got a new flight to Ibiza, spent an hour or so there, came over to Alicante, then got driven to the hotel at one thirty in the morning.”
“I was listening to music, reading – I found it quite amusing watching the French people running around, getting uptight with one another. People watching is great: when you tell 200 people the flight is cancelled and watch the mayhem that breaks out,” he said.
Froome was still smiling about the experience. “In those situations, you aren’t going to get anywhere faster by getting uptight,” he reflected. “That’s the life of a cyclist, airports and waiting around.”
There are perhaps more welcoming places to arrive after a long, tiring journey than hedonistic, ex-pat haven Benidorm.
However, Froome is blissfully unaware of its dubious nightlife
reputation. “It sounds like the whole of the UK is here, from what
everyone tells me,” he joked.
The Kenyan-born pro is yet to sign a contract with Team Sky for 2012. “I haven’t sorted anything out for next year, but all being well, I’d like to stay,” he said.