Spain’s Basque Country has some of the most passionate and lively fans of professional bike racing, who not only cheer on the race favourites like the recent winner of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), but also for the riders who struggle over the region’s challenging terrain. After a period of economic set backs, the region is re-building the sport so that riders and fans can continue to thrive in the sport of cycling.
The fans flocked to the sides of the roads to watch the underdogs and the opportunists stake their claim during the six-day race at Pais Vasco this year. It’s the only WorldTour stage race in the region, and one of three WorldTour races held in Spain along with Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian and the Vuelta a España.
“I like riders who fight and give everything in the race, even if they don’t win, they push themselves, try different tactics. They are the riders that connect with the public,” said one fan.
“Lots of the cyclists that have great charisma are maybe riders that don’t have the best palmares, but they have guts honour and are up for a fight,” said another fan.
The Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, held at the beginning of April, has been won by some of the most successful professional cyclists in the sport including previous overall winners Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Sanuel Sanchez and Chris Horner.
The stage race is one of the mainstays of Spanish cycling, along with the Movistar team, the last Spanish team on the WorldTour circuit, since Euskaltel-Euskadi disbanded two years ago because of a lack of sponsorship.
Our latest inCycle video highlights racing in the Basque Country and how the region is re-building the sport after facing economic troubles through grassroots amateur programs like the Club Ciclista Eibarres, a feeder team for the next generation of Basque riders, while also developing more races for juniors, under-23 and elites.
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