Riding in a first grand tour is a dream come true for all young pro cyclists. After years of hard work and dedication simply reaching the start line is a huge achievement. Young Spanish rider Carlos Verona is taking on his first grand tour at La Vuelta 2014 and will be riding for Omega Pharma – Quickstep in support of team leader Rigoberto Uran. Carlos has kindly agreed to share his own unique perspective on just what it takes to ride a grand tour whilst he takes his place in the peloton at possibly the most anticipated Vuelta a España ever.

Carlos Verona: I am sure that some of you are thinking who is Carlos Verona? Well, Carlos Verona is a young, Spanish rider (I was born on November 4th, 1992) who currently rides for the Belgian team Omega Pharma – Quickstep and who after almost two seasons in the World Tour league is taking part in his first grand tour, La Vuelta Ciclista a España 2014.

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I started cycling at the age of 12 – just ten years ago – and one of the reasons that I started to love it was due to watching past editions of La Vuelta.

As you can imagine, being part of this year’s race is a dream come true for me and is something that I have been working towards since my time as a junior when I first topped the Spanish national rankings.

I jumped from Juniors to Professionals with one small continental team called Burgos 2016 – Castilla y León. After two years riding with them and getting some decent results, I received a call from Patrik Levefere (CEO of Omega Pharma – Quickstep) to join the ranks at one of the biggest teams in the world. I started riding for OPQS in 2013 and…….here I am at the start line of my first grand tour!

At this stage in my career I’m still learning and developing my skills. As yet I haven’t chalked up any significant results but for the majority of the time I have been riding at the service of the team. However, I am gaining some great experience and, of course, getting stronger because to ride as a domestique is never easy…..especially in a team like this.

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So let´s talk about La Vuelta. It started two days ago in Jerez de La Frontera with the team time trial.

In the days leading up to the race, I was really nervous. We arrived in Jerez on Wednesday evening, so we had almost three days here before the actual race got underway. We used this time to fine-tune our preparations. We went out on some final training rides, we met with our sporting director to set our goals for the race, and importantly we recced the parcours of the stage 1 team time trial. It is during these final stage of preparation that you are especially nervous because there are so many new things to take in and I had a lot of concerns bouncing around in my head. How will I feel? Is the TTT circuit as dangerous as everybody says? In short I couldn’t wait for Saturday night to come and the racing to start.

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20.20hr. This was our departure time. In the morning we did the circuit recon from our hotel; 50km in total. We got a very good rhythm and felt good. Then we had lunch and afterwards a short nap. After the nap another light meal and then we were on our way to the circuit at 18.30hr. Once we were there everybody was really focused on the race; listening to music, getting into their own zones and making final arrangements. We did a 30 minute warm-up on the turbo trainers and then we were ready to go.

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My best (and the most stressful) moment of La Vuelta so far was when I was at the depart of the TTT. I said to myself; „Carlos, the moment that you have been looking forward to for as long as you can remember has arrived – enjoy it” and I did.

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I suffered a lot during the TTT, but I survived a technical and flat parcours. My plan for the next three weeks is to enjoy each and every stage because La Vuelta has started.

Greetings from Cádiz,

@Carlos_Verona (Omega Pharma – Quickstep rider)

You can follow Carlos and all of the other Strava Pros riding as well as check out the stage routes and key segments on the La Vuelta 2014 on Strava page.