End of March, in Castilla y León, we were on hand to witness Alberto’s victory, and together with Nicky and family met Chechu in his beloved Asturias, with a personal visit with his family we would never have dreamed of.
In early June, we stayed at Chechu’s side for three consecutive days during the Critérium du Dauphiné, and encouraged the whole team.
End of August we witnessed live the departure of the Vuelta in Granada and Cordoba, and shared the team’s hotel, which is an absolutely unique experience.
The Vuelta was hardly over when the news broke of Lance’s comeback, followed by the signature of Chechu for one more year, the return of Yaroslav to Astana, and finally the impending birth of Johan’s baby.
It’s almost too much for a single year!
The Dauphiné with Chechu
For me, the highlight of the season came on a rainy day at the Tour de Georgia. As my husband held the umbrella, I made an offering to Chechu, and peformed for him the hymn of his land, Asturias patria querida.
Before ten notes had passed, he bounded off the team bus, and stood listening intently, watching with undivided attention, smiling kindly. I focused on the asphalt, unable to look up.
It was a humble gift to a great man who received it nobly, and meant much more than playing for a huge audience or a famous conductor. This moment will be forever in my heart.
2008 has been an incredible year in terms of events and announcements that have made our heart pound, despite the ASO boycott of our favourite team from all of its races.
So many victories and happy announcements emerged that, in the end 2008, ended up as an exceptional year, not just for Chechu's team but also for us.
Georgia with Chechu
I'm sure you can imagine how special visiting Chechu at home was. We returned to Asturias in March because we loved it so much first time round. It's a long journey for us, but the spectacular mountains and glorious beaches are worth it.
Of course, we lost our way going to Baldornón. There are two turn-offs, Michellin shows only one. The wrong one, as it happens. When we finally arrived, Chechu just laughed. Ha!
Tom borrowed a bike from Chechu and explored the crazy, steep dirt roads around Cudillero. I know he was overwhelmed by Chechu's generosity. It was a pretty cool bike, and yes, we did return it.
Our girls fed the Ruberia goats and fell in love with Chechu's soppy alsatian, Bruno who wanders his neighbourhood, clearly a top dog.
I loved stage 3 of the Tour of California when Chechu rode a spectacular race, in support of Levi Leipheimer. He stormed up Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road on the road to San Jose. And we watched it live.
Arriving in Segovia (stage 19 finish, Vuelta a España), I texted Chechu. Good luck. Hope to see you at the finish . . . something like that. Within minutes, he phoned.
I saw Chechu race in Spain. Three times. It was magnificent.
Segovia with Chechu
The maillot jaune to Ken Conley for his fab photos in California and Georgia, and his generosity.
Also Philippe Maertens for his good humour and open mind. Herminio Garcia Aller, Chechu's friend who opened invisible doors. All competition entrants and bloggers without whom . . . thank you.
Not forgetting Chechu Rubiera for an exciting season and for year to come.
A lantern rouge to the Vuelta a España for lack of consideration to fans.
And Twitter for too much information.
2008 was Chechu's final season - or so we thought - and we wanted it to be special for him, packed full of tributes and adoration. Well, he deserves it.
We commissioned a wonderful commemorative poster from graphic artist, Steven Mitchell.
From the artwork, we created a design for t-shirts and badges, which we sold and donated the proceeds to Braveheart Cycling Fund. A few pennies, not enough.
Our blog started in January, with the aim of opening up this website, and Rebecca's fabulous Alberto Contador Notebook, to other fans. We're grateful to everyone who wrote for us and sent photos.
For the first time, we had more visitors from Spain than from anywhere else. This is a great milestone for us, and is the result Chechu's fantastic season in 2008 and the local media interest in him.
We bought a few Asturian flags in Gijón and sent them to supporters around the world. They proved wonderful Chechu magnets.
Towards the end of the season, we published a series of retrospectives. We spoke to Chechu's first coach, Jesús Rodrigo about his cycling school in Gijón.
Ex-cyclist and a respected cycling journalist José-Enrique Cima told us about Chechu's early career. These are exclusive features, and essential reading for fans.
"Five words for Chechu" is coming soon (thanks again, sorry for the delay).