Cycling is one of the most popular sports in Spain, both as a participator and a spectator sport, whether viewed from the trackside or via the very ample televised coverage. The major event is the Tour of Spain (Vuelta a España) which takes place from September to October each year. It is typically a twenty-three day event with one rest day, and the route varies from year to year. The 1996 route began with a circular stage of 162 km in Valencia, and the remaining days" stages were: Valencia-Cuenca (205 km); Cuenca-Albacete (184 km); Albacete-Murcia (160 km); Murcia-Almería (210 km); Almería-Málaga (210 km) Málaga— Marbella (150 km); Marbella-Jerez de la Frontera (205 km); Jerez de la Frontera-Córdoba (204 km); rest day; El Tiemblo-Avila (46 km against the clock); Avila-Salamanca (197 km); Benavente-Alto del Naranco (188 km); Oviedo-Lagos de Cova-dogna (170 km); Cangas de Onís-Parque Naturaleza de Cabárceno (170 km); Parque Naturaleza de Cabárceno-Alto Cruz de la Demanda (210 km); Logroño-Sabiñánigo (222 km); Sabiñánigo-Ampriu (158 km); Benasque-Zaragoza (222 km); Getafe-Avila (212 km); Avila-Destilerías DYC (204 km); Segovia-Destilerías DYC (44 km against the clock); finishing with a circle of 165 km in Madrid. The total of 3,898 km includes a number of arduous mountain stages, especially in the Pyrenees in northern Aragon. The 1997 route broke with tradition by starting from outside Spain in Lisbon and omitting the Pyrenees.
   In addition to the Tour of Spain, fifteen other shorter events such as the Tour of Andalusia, the Tour of Asturias etc. are held each year, as well as a series of one-day events.
   The Tour of Spain has been won by many Spaniards since it began in 1935, but it was a series of victories in the Tour de France which both created enthusiasm for cycling within Spain and brought Spanish professional cyclists to world attention. The Tour had been won by Bahamontes in 1959, by Ocaña in 1973, and by Delgado in 1988, but Induráin's victories from 1991–5 made him one of only three to have won five times, and the only one to have done so consecutively. Spanish cyclists have also been successful in world championships (Indurain and Olano, for example, were world champions in 1995, and won gold and silver medals respectively in the 1996 Olympics) and the Spanish teams of ONCE and Banesto feature frequently among the top five professional teams worldwide.
   See also: sport and leisure

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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