Can you imagine? A hot afternoon in the city. There's no sign of the morning's heavy rain as the Madrid sun beats down. You have to find shade. The bus shelter, maybe under that tree. No, too far, no view. Stay where you are.
People are gathering, looking for a good place to stand, casually leaning against the barriers. Smoking. Talking. Watching. Cameras ready. It's not really busy. Are they fans? Just one has come by bike.
The announcer's voice is more excited now. Something's happening. It's nearly 5 o'clock, they must be close. His Spanish is too fast though. The screen is obscured. You pick out some familiar names. Chechoo Rrrrrrooobiera! He's made it.
And then there's just noise. Dozens of motorbikes and cars scream that the promenade is beginning. A minute passes and still they come. They're doing well over forty easy, keeping ahead of the race.
The sound of applause and cheers has started down the crowd, and quickly comes towards you. All of a sudden, the race is here. His team - your team - in a line, leading the peloton home. A high-speed ritual, crazy and brilliant.
And they fly past you six, seven and eight times, the cyclists in a bunch at first, then in groups. There's a crash out of sight. No, the maillot oro is safe, so is number 38. You soak it all in, and take a few souvenir shots. This is cycle racing at its best. It's what you love.
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