The final stage of the 2007 Vuelta is a short 104 km trip from Rivas Vaciamadrid to Madrid. Well actually it ended up being only 98km–the peloton rode so slowly that the organizers decided to strip one lap off in an attempt to maintain television scheduling. There were quite a few puzzled looks and people looking at their watches wondering why on earth the peloton was so far behind the predicted arrival time. Finally, a faint buzz of helicopters in the distance signaled that the pack was getting close.
A wave of crowd roars began to approach from the long stretch of the historic Paseo del Prado. Finally the Vuelta has arrived! I would get to see the peloton pass ten times–five times on the far side of the fountain of Cibeles and five times right in front of me, before the final sprint which I missed completely from my vantage point. It was certainly an exciting finish, though as the announcer shouted his call of the close sprint between the two great sprinters of the race: “Bennati! Petacchi! Petacchi! Bennati! Petacchi! Bennati! Bennati!!!”
The crowd rushed the finish line and in no time, there were solid people litteraly as far as the eye could see. I mean I’ve never seen so many people in one place in my life.
The podium celebration included skydivers bearing the national flags of the three podium finishers as well as a fly-over from the Spanish Air Force.