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Vuelta part 2

Week 2 with Aqua Blue Sport & Karen M. Edwards

Story by Soigneur September 5th, 2017

RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHER KAREN M. EDWARDS IS EMBEDDED WITH IRISH AQUA BLUE TEAM AS THEY MAKE THEIR GRAND TOUR DEBUT AT THE VUELTA A ESPAÑA.

SOIGNEUR CAUGHT UP WITH HER DURING THE second REST DAY.


The big news story of the week was the arson attack on the Aqua Blue team bus. How did you find out about it, and how has it affected the team?

That night Astana and Bora-Hansgrohe were staying in the same hotel as us. I worked on the bus until about 9pm, doing all my editing. Then I went inside to freshen up and go to dinner with the team. The next morning I got up bright and early, and the first thing you always do on a race is take your suitcase downstairs to be loaded onto the bus. I got down to the hotel lobby and saw one of the team guys, said good morning. And he said, no, it’s not a good morning – go outside and have a look.

I walked towards the bus and there was a bit of commotion and a burning smell. And then I saw it. I was upset because it’s become a bit of a home for me and for the whole team. Especially for the soigneurs – it’s where they work.

It’s kind of ironic because the day before I’d taken a photo of all the team’s helmets hanging up in the bus, and when it got burned the boys’ helmets all melted. There was a lot of stuff on there that got destroyed – gels, food, rain gilets.

There was an awful media frenzy but I think the whole thing just made everyone even more determined to do well. That day Peter Koning came in 11th and I don’t think that was a coincidence.

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It’s been a brutal week for the riders, with lots of high mountains, how’s it been for you?

It’s been a really tough week. The mountain stages were just insane, particularly Sunday’s stage with a transfer straight after. We all couldn’t wait for the rest day. I haven’t been on the motorbike this week so I’ve been mixing it up between the soigneurs’ cars and going in the team car. It means I miss the front of the race but you see a lot further back anyway - what’s going on right in the middle of the race. You get the manic feeling of the cavalcade, the number of bottles being carried up to the peloton, what’s going on inside the breaks, the communication between the DS and the riders. On the other hand you don’t get a chance to go on ahead and work out the best locations, the picturesque spots, so you have to make do with whatever images you get.

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This week saw some rain, how has that affected the riders?

We had two days of pretty heavy rain, and the temperature dipped too. Before it was up at 35 to 40 centigrade, then suddenly it was dipping down to 20 centigrade, which is still pretty warm for Ireland but over here it’s chilly! On one side the riders quite appreciated getting a break from the heat. But on the other side the roads over here aren’t really designed for rain. They’re really slippy when wet, some of the bends were lethal.

On a practical level how do you cope with keeping your kit dry?

I just kind of a make do. I put plastic over the camera and tape it over body of the lens. Nothing too fancy. I’ve never had an issue, even when I was at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the snow.

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Footnote: Photos by Karen M. Edwards > Insta: @karenm.edwards. Text by Paul Maunder. With special thanks to Team Aqua Blue Sport.
Vuelta 2017