by Tim Moore
Tim Moore completes his epic (and ill-advised) trilogy of cycling’s Grand Tours. Julian Berrendero’s victory in the 1941 Vuelta a España was an extraordinary exercise in sporting redemption: the Spanish cyclist had just spent 18 months in Franco’s concentration camps, punishment for expressing Republican sympathies during the civil war. Seventy nine years later, perennially over-ambitious cyclo-adventurer Tim Moore developed a fascination with Berrendero’s story, and having borrowed an old road bike with the great man’s name plastered all over it, set off to retrace the 4,409km route of his 1941 triumph – in the midst of a global pandemic.
What follows is a tale of brutal heat and lonely roads, of glory, humiliation, and then a bit more humiliation. Along the way Tim recounts the civil war’s still-vivid tragedies, and finds the gregarious but impressively responsible locals torn between welcoming their nation’s only foreign visitor, and bundling him and his filthy bike into a vat of antiviral gel.