“Age and treachery
will overcome youth and skill.”
Fausto Coppi, Italian
"Champion of Champions"

  August/September 2005


Vuelta a Espana 05 (Click to enlarge)


400 years on and Quixote's giants still stand sentinel


Stage 5, Cuenca, Casas Colgadas


Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain

La Vuelta a Espana: A Grand Tour [Part 2]

Celebrating Don Quixote

This year the world celebrates the 400 th anniversary of the first publication of Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote, The Man From La Mancha , which is regarded as the very first and still the most popular novel ever written. Stages 3, 4 and 5 take the Vuelta across the legendary plains of La Mancha with the occasional Cat 3 and Cat 2 climb to break the monotony of the flatlands. Stage 4 from Cuidad Real to Argamasilla de Alba (230.3 km) is completely flat but the region is notorious for the winds immortalized in La Mancha. The race will pass many towns mentioned in Cervantes's novel. Every time the race traverses this area we are treated to one of the great spectacles of cycle racing as the bunch is torn apart by the wind and a series of bordures (echelons in the peloton) form right across the width of the road. For the weaker riders, especially those tailed off, their sleek 21 st century wheeled-steeds must feel more like Quixote's poor old bony horse Rocinantes . Based on what we have seen in recent years, Team CSC will be in the leading bordure, wreaking coordinated havoc on the field.

The association with Quixote continues on Stage 5 (176 km) as the race heads for the capital of La Mancha, Cuenca. About 12 km from the finish the only climb of the day (Cat 3) takes the field past the old castle on the Alto del Castillo. Cuenca itself clings to the summit of two deep gorges and the race finish here can be expected to be as thrilling as on past visits. The race penetrates the heart of the old city and sweeps past the cathedral and Plaza Mayor. During the evening those staying down in the new town will be able to look up and see the famous Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) that are built into the vertical side of the gorge.




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