By Hernan Alvarez in Madrid
One of the World's organisers and Vuelta a España chief Victor Cordero had estimated 1-1.5 million people would come to watch the elite men's road race, but that didn't happen at all. Racing organisers from the UCI thought there were around 110,000 persons by the road, but by Cyclingnews' estimation, that figure was closer to 50,000 spectators on the streets of Madrid. Cycling is actually not the top sport in Spain, where soccer dominates, with basketball a distant second and others further down the popularity list. Not only that, the World's wasn't so pleasant for the residents of Madrid, as they had to withstand the traffic jams produced because of the many avenues were blocked off, in a city with an already excessive number of cars and many traffic problems.
However, in the final lap, the roadsides near the finish line were crowded with people excited to watch not only the Spanish riders, but also other top competitors. Francisco Mancebo is one of the biggest favourites of the Spanish fans; when he finished and he was going to the teams' area, an ovation came from the side of the road to salute him, with the locals also celebrating Valverde's silver medal. When the race broadcaster said his name at the medals ceremony, the crowd shouted for the rider and his country.