Rich cycling history in Andalucía
The 65th edition of La Vuelta a Andalucía, a major date in the world cycling calendar, starts its five-day tour of Spain’s southernmost region today... which is great news for those who live in Andalucía and want to get a glimpse of some of the world’s best riders battling it out.
Cycling route with a white village finale
Starting in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the province of Cádiz, the 687-kilometre long race’s five stages take participants eastwards through Sevilla and towards Granada, before eventually heading southwest back towards the coast and the finish line in Alhaurín de la Torre on Sunday.
The pretty town of Alhaurín de la Torre is fortunate to play host to the finale of this year’s tour and provides a fitting backdrop to the race, which many fans hope goes right down to the wire.
A quaint yet well-established town, Alhaurín de la Torre has historical and archaeological significance and offers its residents all the modern amenities one would expect from a popular residential centre, whilst retaining its white-washed Andalucian essence.
La Vuelta a Andalucía’s international flavour
As you would imagine, most participating teams are European. Line-ups from Spain, Belgium, Italy, Holland and France are represented – as is to be expected – but there are also teams of riders from as far afield as Russia, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, the USA and Australia.
In terms of the world-class riders themselves, a total of 113 cyclists make up the field, with 18 different nationalities represented. These speedsters form the 19 teams taking part in the race, with both individual and team honours up for grabs.
The form book
According to predictions, the favourites to take this year's La Vuelta a Andalucía yellow jersey and general classification title are last year’s winner from Belgium, Tim Wellens, British rider Simon Yates and Spaniard Luis León Sánchez1.
Neither Dutch racer Wout Poels, who ran Wellens close in last year’s race, nor third-ranked in 2018, Marc Soler, will be on the start line this morning at 12.15pm. Alejandro Valverde, winner of five La Vuelta de Andalucía races in the last seven years - most recently in 2017 - will also not be competing this year, further opening up the field for other riders.
Putting a spoke in the wheel
I must confess, cycling isn’t my cup of tea. Nor is it something I would line the streets to go and watch. I am a sports lover, don’t get me wrong, but I put cycling in the same category as Formula 1 and superbikes in terms of being a spectator sport. It just isn’t one.
I do, however, recognise the various health benefits. Increased cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility and joint mobility2 are great reasons to get on your bike, so to speak, and it’s a fantastic low impact sport for those with existing joint issues or susceptibility to articulation pain.
As a racket sports player and squash (a game famously hard on joints) fanatic, I may, too, be joining the ranks very soon, so I may be forced to eat my words!
However, my mild disdain for cycling aside, I would certainly recommend a trip over to Alhaurín de la Torre to visit what is one of the fastest-growing towns on the Costa del Sol. Just a 20-minute drive from the lively cosmopolitan hub of Málaga, the town is very easily accessible from the coast and offers something for everyone.
Sensational panoramic views, hiking, nature trails and walking routes, great spots to eat and drink, historical and cultural interest, several fairs and events over the course of the year, strong sports infrastructure, etc., make Alhaurín de la Torre a brilliant place either to visit or to live full time.
What about you? Are you a cycling enthusiast? Are you interested in going to see any of the Vuelta a Andalucía 2019? If so, leave me a message and tell me exactly what I’ve been missing out on!