Volta Algarve Bike Race (all photos can be clicked to enlarge)
I’ve been a fan of professional bike racing for quite awhile now, following races big and small on the GCN+ app. The fours biggies are the Tour de France, Giro D’Italia, Vuelta a España and the Volta Algarve. This year I was able to attend the first two stages of the Volta Algarve – Stage 1 starting in Portimão, ending in Lagos ; Stage 2 in Monchique, up in the mountains. Both stages relatively close to where I stay.
The team buses and cars were all located riverside in Portimão with little to no concerns about people walking around, looking at the bikes, chatting with the crews. It was all very chill!
They take off for the first stage, due to arrive in Lagos about 5 hours later. I was lucky enough to go back home, have some lunch and grab an afternoon bus over to Lagos to catch the finish. A flat finish means the sprinters – the guys who specialize in going super-fast, will be vieing for the winners title and they did not disappoint. Here is a short video I took at the finish line and they were killin’ it.
Stage 2 was up in the mountains, finishing on Mt Foia, the highest point of the Algarve. About three hours into the race, they would be going through a very pretty town called Monchique which was accessible with the public bus system.
I had a nice walk around town and settled in for a lunch of grilled sardines, a local specialty in Portugal.
I scouted out a spot near the roundabout where I could watch them come into town. Although I had a website open on my phone that gave me live updates on their location, it wasn’t hard to tell when they were getting close. Police are diverting all traffic, approaching police sirens were blasting, press motorcycles were starting up and the helicopters were hovering right overhead. It was great! The air was electric as everyone awaits their arrival.
After this, they moved onto an easterly loop away from Monchique, to return about 1.5 hours to begin the ascent up Mt Foia. I walked a bit up the Foia mountain (not the entire 7km to the finish) to scout out a good spot and watch the tedious mountain climb.
There were three more days of racing after this but logistically it was tougher to get to those locations. It was a really fun experience to see the race up-close, rather than on TV.
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