The eruption of a volcano on Iceland has been on the news quite a lot lately. This because it led to a disruption of air traffic in many European countries. The wind was “blowing ash in the wrong direction”: many airports closed because planes were not allowed to take off. This also had its effect on procycling. With races on the schedule such as the Amstel Gold Race in The Netherlands and La Flèche Wallonne in Belgium, many cyclists had a problem: how to get there without the ability of taking a plane? Alejandro Valverde, Luis Leon Sanchez and Carlos Sastre were among the riders who were forced to stay at home. “Can’t get to Amstel this weekend due to Arthur!” were Bradley Wiggins’ words on Twitter. But there were also creative cyclists, here are some stories about the ones who decided to travel in other ways…
Lots of riders went by car or in buses to Maastricht: Cadel Evans and Oscar Freire from Southern Switzerland and Team Liquigas from Milan, who were also so kind to pick up a few riders from HTC-Columbia on the way to the Netherlands. The most impressive story is that of three riders from Caisse d’Epargne: they travelled all the way from Spain by train and were the only three riders from the Team who made it to the race. These adventurous guys were Imanol Erviti, José Vicente Garcia Acosta and David Lopez Garcia. Normally a team has to have at least five riders at the start, but because of the exceptional circumstances the UCI allowed them to start with only three.
After winning the Vuelta a Castilla y Léon, Alberto Contador wanted to travel to Belgium for La Flèche Wallonne. With air traffic still not being possible in Europe, he decided to take the car. Here is a video of his journey:
Oscar Pereiro, also riding for Team Astana, showed on Twitter what it was like to travel so far by car and train:
You would expect the Dutch riders to have the least problems in getting at the races, but what if you’re abroad training in the Sierra Nevada? Dutch Rabobank cyclist Pieter Weening wanted to ride in La Flèche Wallonne after three weeks of hard work in the Spanish mountains.. but he wasn’t able to get to Belgium in time. The NOS spoke to him about missing this classic in a radio interview and he told later on in a weblog on his website that even though he got to Paris by plane afterwards, he still had to make a long train journey – he joked about it and called it a “city trip” – back home to Lanaken, near Maastricht.
If you think these were already quite the stories… here is the most original one! Team Sky rider Kurt-Asle Arvesen thought it was fun to give a clinic on a North Sea oil rig, but could not expect he would be stuck there for FIVE DAYS because of the volcanic ash cloud! To keep himself in peak condition he ran up the many stairs and used the exercise bikes. The cyclist gave an interview saying that “[he] was able to train almost as well as [he] would have done at home so it could have been worse.” He called it “an enjoyable few days” because he had never been on an oil rig before and therefore he learned a lot of interesting things.
Despite all this, cyclists were still laughing after their long journeys, probably because they were very happy that they arrived at their destination!