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Unipublic's 25 years of the Vuelta: Looking Back
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 12/17/2002
Unipublic's 25 years of the Vuelta: Looking Back

This year's Vuelta marks the 25th year that Unipublic has organized the race. During the presentation today in Madrid, Unipublic president Enrique Franco recalled when his organization took over running the Vuelta.

In 1979 Luis Puig (at that time, president of the Spanish Cycling Federation) suggested that sporting event company Unipublic take charge of the race. Franco says, "It was just a couple of months before the race and there was no route, we did not have start cities or end cities, so we did a lot of improvising. We began in Jerez with my friend Pedro Pacheco, who was the mayor. Now we have so many petitions from cities wishing to host a start or finish, we could have four or five routes."

"The first year Luis came to us and said he had a sponsor - we were very happy. He said, 'We have 10 million pesetas.' I said to him icily that this wouldn't cover five stages."

Vincente Belda of Kelme Costa Blanca recalls his team's first Vuelta, in 1978, one year before Unipublic became organizer of the event. "We did the Vuelta with two cars and a van into which went all the suitcases." Belda can't help laughing, "We had three respectable bikes for the whole team - one for me; other two were for everyone else."

Belda also remembers the meager conditions of those earlier days. He says, "I remember that first year. We were staying in a pension, and every day for three days we ate the same thing - soup, swordfish and three oranges for dessert."

Today more than 150 cars and 3500 people move with the peloton, but Franco laughed about the organizer vehicles too - "There were only three convertibles in the Vuelta and one was mine, a Citreon that was used by the race director." (Thanks to Marca)

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