Cycling – The Spanish Obsession


cycling-spainThe Spanish are a sports mad race and cycling plays a very close second to football in a lot of men’s mind. Yes, it’s still a men’s thing really –you very rarely see groups of women all dressed up road racing!

Cycling is avidly watched on the TV and every town has its cycling club –some which are so elite they have a waiting list and an approval period of membership.

Spain has produced some world champion cyclists over the years and in the Tour de France several winners-notably Miguel Indurain. He acquired the famous yellow jersey and managed to be the overall winner in the years 1991 right through to 1995.

He also won the Giro de Italia in 92 and 93 and obtained various medals in the world championships in 91, 93 and 95. He retired after a wonderful career in the late nineties and was an inspiration for hundreds of thousands of little boys who are still dedicated cyclists today. Cycling gets you like that!

However the one major championship that, bizarrely, he didn’t win WAS the Vuelta a España. This prestigious race started in 1935 and with its 14 stages covers over 3000 kilometres of some of the most demanding territory.

Despite several hiccups during the Civil and Second World War the race now attracts the worlds top cyclists. Spain won between 2000 and 2004 (with Roberto Heras and Angel Casero) but Germany has had several successful years. The race starts in a different area each year and last year Malaga had the honour.

However last years race was marred by the inevitable drug scandals, right at the end, with unfortunate wrangling about who was the real winner!

Other recent tragedies in Spanish Cycling include the recent ghastly accident of Isaac Galvez who died after falling- following a collision with another rider in a race in Belgium. Galvez was a 33 year old Catalan and held a current World Championship title.

Cycling safety is however, taken very seriously in Spain. Children are taken through their cycling and road safety at school in “educación vial” lessons run by the Police –very similar to our Cycling proficiency. Helmets must be worn on all main roads and inter-urban roads and cyclists are not allowed on the motorways-in theory that is as you still see the odd few nutters battling it out with the lorries travelling past them at 100 kpm!

The amounts of dedicated cycle tracks are increasing constantly and most coastal towns have cycle tracks along their Paseo Maritimo. One very long and beautiful track to be opened very shortly will run from Sotogrande on the coast over the mountains to Castellar and along the river valley to San Roque. This will be about 40 kilometres of fantastic safe cycling and so will be suitable for children and novices as well!

Spain is ideal for cycling holidays and tours. Most regional trains, including those from the Malaga and Algeciras ends of the coast will take bikes and buses have no problem with them as long as there is room! Cheap hostels and hotels abound around here-very good for the budget cycle tourist and of course the weather in spring and autumn is ideal for cycling.

Many organised cycling holidays exist where your bike is moved on for you ready for the next’s day’s cycle and you don’t have to organise anything.

Finally, as previously mentioned, every small town has a cycle club and club house and local and regional competitions abound. Often these are very well attended by the public and roads are shut of for the occasion and a party atmosphere prevails-in true Spanish style.


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