La Vuelta de España, known in English as the ‘Tour of Spain’ hit Ronda today on the first full day of racing from Alcala de Guadaira in the Sevilla province, racing through Arriate and Ronda on the way to end of stage two in Marbella.
In temperatures hovering around 38 degrees celsius the pack started their grueling 173km stage, and a little after 16:15 made it to Ronda with a huge Guardia Civil escort and several helicopters hovering overhead.
The UK’s Mark Cavendish, wearing the red jersey after winning the first stage sprint in Sevilla, however at the 4km mark as racing started outside Acala Cavendish had fallen back, allowing Javier Ramirez Abeja, Mickael Buffaz, Johnnie Walker, and Mickael Delage to make their first break from the pack, and by the time they had reached Ronda this had converted to a 45 second lead.
First to cross Ronda’s Puente Nuevo was Mickael Delage (FRA) from the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, followed 12 seconds later by Johnnie Walker (AUS) of the Footon-Servetto team and in third position, Javier Ramirez Abeja (ESP) of Andalucia-Cajasur whose close tailing of Walker as they passed the Santo Domingo Convent raised a huge cheer from Rondeños watching.
First of the pack to cross the Puente Nuevo were riders from team HTC-Colombia including the red shirted Cavendish, the noise of the bikes on cobbled stones was deafening, drowning out the rousing cheers of Rondeños and tourists alike.
After the pack came the team cars laden with spare frames and wheels on their roofs, and then the crowd expecting the race to be over dispersed.
Twenty minutes later the final lone cyclist passed in front of the Plaza de Toros, Arkaitz Duran Daroca of team Footon-Servetto, though it would be fair to say he received the biggest cheer of all, including a standing ovation as he passed Plaza de Espana.
Policia Local today estimated that between La Merced and the Museo Lara around 2,000 fans turned out to watch La Vuelta, which is a large crowd at that time of the afternoon with temperatures hovering around 36 degrees.
You can read more about La Vuelta de Espana on the official website of the race.