One Fantastic Country for Two-Wheel Fans
Cycling is the most widely practised sport in Spain. From asphalt to mountains, from enjoying the sport with fellow cycling club members to pedalling alone, cycling is everywhere and participated in by many throughout the country.
The sport has a long history in Spain, and there have been many great Spanish cyclists. However, it is five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain who has the honour of having single-handedly brought cycling into the mainstream. Alberto Contador, another multiple Grand Tour champion, is currently the most popular cyclist in Spain.
The country’s geography is ideal for cycling at all levels: its mountain passes challenge even the most seasoned of cyclists. The road that leads to the Covadonga Lakes in Asturias is the most iconic climb in Spain's annual multi-stage cycling race, the Vuelta a España.
First held in 1935, the Vuelta features the world’s best cyclists, as well as large numbers of fans who line the roads to cheer on the competitors. Since it takes place in August and/or September, it is often convenient for summer holidaymakers, with some of the best views provided from the many categorised climbs. The route changes annually, but the fact that it usually ends in the capital, Madrid, is also ideal for travellers interested in watching at least the final stage.
However, although it sometimes includes an ascent to the highest paved road in Europe (the Pico del Veleta in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, near Granada, from where many aficionados make the pilgrimage up by bike), the Vuelta is the least challenging professional cycling race.
Speaking of pilgrimages, cycling enthusiasts often complete the famous Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, to Santiago de Compostela by bike from a variety of locations.
Cycling has also found its way into Spanish gyms and is now the country’s most popular gym sport. Similarly, urban cycling is equally booming, with hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes and a wide array of bike rentals available in places such as Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and Seville, the last of which has been named Spain's most bike-friendly city.