The 2013 Tour de San Luis starts today and the local population was treated to an impressive teams' presentation on Sunday night that included a firework display and a warm welcome for the teams and riders set to take part in the seven-day Argentinean stage race.
Around 4,000 cycling fans turned out for the late night extravaganza which was televised live, and showcased live music. It was testament to the growing nature of this race and its improved profile in the UCI calendar with Mark Cavendish, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali all receiving huge applause.
The event took place at the grand, if a little remote, Independence Hall, which was built in 2010, as a bicentennial honour of Argentina's independence from Spain in 1810. The structure is a replica of an important government building in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, where independence from Europe power and talk of sovereignty were cooked up.
While Contador and his WorldTour companions attracted the attention of the international media it was the San Luis Somos Todos team who received the warmest cheers from the partisan crowd. The eight-man team comprise of seven Argentine riders and one Chilean, however they represent the cream of local cycling and were allocated the final, headlining slot, as teams were brought on stage in quick succession.
The race kicks off on Monday with a 164 kilometre stage from San Luis to Villa Mercedes, with the sprinters expected to shine.