Cameron Wurf’s Vuelta Diary – Where is Altamira?
Throughout the Vuelta a España we’ll be featuring Cameron Wurf’s (Team Cannondale) personal account of the race after every stage. Cameron represented Australia in the 2004 Athens Olympics in rowing (men’s lightweight double scull) and worked his way to the top level of cycling (which he tells more about in this first post). He’ll be helping teammate Ivan Basso for the next three weeks with his General Classification ambitions and hopefully he’ll have some opportunities to animate the race like he did in this years Giro.
I’m excited to follow Cam’s story over the next three weeks during his whirlwind trip around Spain. Enjoy!
A little about Cam…
Where is Altamira?
The eve of the Vuelta a España is finally here which means team presentation today, then showtime tomorrow. I am super-excited to finally be at the Tour of Spain as my fascination for the event had a big influence in my decision to switch sports in some respects. In the respect I feel I have come full circle to finally be here so pretty special moment for me. The reason for this I will now explain.
Following the rowing world championships in 2006 I had my vacation in San Sebastián. I had just been through a very difficult season riddled with injury and to finish 4th in the final only added insult into injury. Once I arrived in San Sebastián with my partner Jess, her sister Lanny and my best mate Matty Ryan, all those disappointments seemed to vanish. I simply sunned myself all day on the beach and let my battered body repair, particularly my tendonitis’d wrist that would ultimately provide me with the opportunity to spend more time on my bike. But long before this played a part those days in San Sebastián really planted a cycling seed in my head. As I lay there on the beach I dreamed of one day being a professional cyclist and living right there in San Sebastián. The place at the time provided me with the idyllic dream home town for the profession I was dreaming of taking up, beach, golf course, and off course great food available on every street in town. Also at the same time the Vuelta was underway and I was determined to go and see a stage as I was there. So with that I found a map of the race in a local newspaper and set about finding the closest opportunity to see my heroes ride past, even just for a split second. The stage we decided to attend finished In the town of Altamira so with a few calculations we figured we could be there inside 3hrs and have my first ever day watching a professional bike race.
The big day finally arrived and off we went in our rent a car in search of Altamira. In retrospect, purchasing a GPS would have made life a lot easier but instead we stuck with the map. With Jess navigating we were on way and quickly headed straight for Altamira and the Vuelta. There was plenty of excitement in the car to see the cycling stars in action and I have to probably admit that it effected my common sense in that regard! We were soon basically in the middle of nowhere, still on the path to Altamira, however Jess, lan and Matty were now pretty dubious as to weather we had the right place. I was certain all was fine and convinced them that its probably normal for a bike race to use these back roads. I argued that it would be easier to close these types of roads and we pushed on. As we got closer we got a little lost and had to stop to ask for directions to Altamira. Upon reflection people looked at us pretty strangely wondering why on earth we were wanting to go to the Altamira we were pointing to on the map. They looked even more baffled when we explained the biggest bike race in spain was finishing there in a few hrs and I am sure had I have understood even the slightest bit of spanish the truth would have been realised there and then!
The signs that we were in the wrong spot were pretty obvious, firstly we had not seen another car or person for a long time but I just assumed that maybe in typical Spanish fashion everybody would just arrive later. In fact, I managed to convince the others of how clever we had been in arriving so nice and early and we would be able to get the best parking spot!
Well as it turned out parking was never going to be an issue. When we finally arrived in Altamira there was absolutely nothing to resemble the town apart from a sign the others got me to pose in-front of while decked out in my T-Mobile cap and Aussie flag to cheer on Robbie McEwan. With my tail now well and truly between my legs we retreated to the bar where we had previously asked at for directions, but this time without insisting that “particular” Altamira was where we wanted to go. Sure enough there was another Altamira, a major city and from San Sebastian the same distance we had travelled just in pretty much the opposite direction!
So I learnt a couple of things from this failed attempt to go and watch the Vuelta. Firstly always travel with a GPS while driving in Europe, and secondly if I want to see the Vuelta a España on the road, it’s probably best I stop rowing, take up cycling, and take part in the race itself!
So with the start of tomorrow’s TTT I will finally tick of that second objective. It’s funny how this crazy adventure has been the endless amusement of Jess, lan, Matty and I for the last 6 years so nice to finally bring a little closure to the story. I am now going to go through the race book with a fine tooth comb and see if we go through Altamira. That would really cap it off.
I will never really comprehend how much that day in the car failing to find a bike race influenced my decision to change my sport to cycling. I also remember that I wasn’t angry that we did not find the proper race town, but being more concerned with getting to a TV to watch the stage I was meant to be seeing with my own bare eyes on the side of the road in Altamira. I believe this probably makes me a cycling fanatic, where I’m blinded by my passion for the sport. Certainly something that I am.
In any case, here I am. We have had the team presentation so now all that’s left to do is get the show on the road starting with the Team Time Trial tomorrow night.