Category Archives: Sport

La Vuelta de Espana Comes to Ronda

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.

Rugby in Spain Improving with Tortuga Win

Ronda’s Tortugas Rugby Club have won their final game of the season against the spirited and enthusiastic Sevillanos Coria Samuráis, finishing 79-33 in a game that held the attention of a large crowd despite the alternate attraction of the Football World Cup.

Spain is not known for its love of rugby, but in several areas of Andalucía the great game is starting to win important milestones with membership up and crowd support showing genuine appreciation for the spectacle. In Ronda the Tortugas are an almost exclusively Spanish team, a very different makeup from coastal teams that have large numbers of foreigners in their ranks.

Led by captain ‘Toros’ Aguilera, so named because he’s as big a bull, the Ronda Tortugas have enjoyed a very good season, playing teams from Málaga, Cadíz, and Sevilla provinces, as well as hosting a home game against Gibraltar.

Club President Hans Leuenberger told Ronda Today he is very happy with the team overall since they are a young side who have had to be taught to play rugby, none of the players grew up watching rugby or playing the game as kids, which makes their wins this year even more impressive.

The Ronda Tortugas currently sit in the Andalucían third division and share their home ground with Ronda Football CD, at the city sport ground close to Ronda’s Fería ground. The club also coaches three groups of younger players from 4 years to 17 years, as well as providing rugby practice to several men under the care of the Asprodisis association.

The World Cup a Unifying Influence in Ronda

Yesterday Ronda’s many bars were packed with enthusiastic Rondeños paying homage to the national sport, wearing red shirts with yellow ribbon, painting their faces with red and yellow stripes, and singing Spanish football songs. Sadly, the Spanish national side couldn’t break through a determined Swiss defence, losing 1-0 and placing Spanish hopes of a World Cup final in jeopardy.

Fernandes 52nd minute goal that gave Switzerland three points in Group H was a bungled affair, but credit must be given to the Swiss for a determined game that put Spain at the bottom of Group H and a World Cup final into jeopardy. Expat commentators in Ronda assured Ronda Today that Spain’s next games would correct this tragedy, and that Switzerland and Honduras won’t make it to the second round, however international sport commentators seem to disagree. Spain hasn’t been written off yet, but it will be tough to recover against teams emboldened by their loss.

The sense of anguish at the end of the game was overwhelming, whilst some of the local English expatriate community cruelly had the last laugh after enduring several days of taunts from their Spanish friends over England’s draw with the United States.

Spain is a country of people who are not shy of showing off their emotions, this is the main reason so many foreigners choose to live here, and the atmosphere of a major football game is no different. In Ronda strangers become brothers, and strangely, they remain friends after the game, often meeting in bars and calling each other ‘buena gente’.

As a foreign resident in Spain, the writer chose to watch the game dressed in a red shirt, and my friends plastered a red and yellow flag over my face and arms with a flag colored roll-on, just like a larger version of a woman’s lipstick. The discount stores in Ronda sell these for a couple of Euros, but for the next game, this writer will be sporting a Spanish bandera and just maybe a Torres shirt.

Living in Spain is more than just the sun or the food, joining Spaniards for football games is a great way to meet new people, it demonstrates solidarity with your neighbours. And sharing the disappointment when Spain loses is part of that.

The biggest crowd of Spanish fans was at Huskies Sports Bar with multiple screens setup for patrons, helped with free red and yellow shirts for fans who bought two pints, and the staff eagerly moving a step ladder around the floor so that fans could add their comment and signature to the huge Spanish flag stapled to the ceiling.

Spain lost this game, but Ronda gained several new Spaniards, myself included, as well as several students from the Spanish School for Foreigners (PIEE), and another group of foreign residents who abandoned their white shirts to join their new friends.

FIFA have recently said that football is a global phenomenon with the potential to bring people together, and in Ronda that was evident, not only at Huskies, but in every bar and plaza in Ronda. The hope is that Spain will win their next two games for a place in the second round. They can do it, or so say their fans in Ronda.

Bjorn Heidenstrom Reaches South Africa

After 335 days on the road, cycling from Oslo in Norway, via Ronda, and to Johannesburg in South Africa, Bjorn Heidenstrom, the crazy Norwegian cyclist has finally had his dream come true, seeing all of the football shirts he collected turned into a giant flag which will be flown at the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bjorn arrived in South Africa from Botswana on May 20th 2010, and made his way to Johannesburg, arriving yesterday just in time for the official opening of the biggest of the new stadiums being built to host the World Cup, and only moments before South Africa’s President Zuma arrived to inspect stadium, and sign Bjorn’s flag.

The Shirt 2010 is a massive yet solo project to raise awareness for the world’s many millions of refugees, over 45 million according to United Nations estimates, people who have been forced out of the homes by war, famine, and natural disasters, but are sadly forgotten.

While he was in Ronda, Bjorn was keen to stress that his project is not about a European footballer having a good time, Bjorn proudly wore a UNHCR cap and emphasised that his mission isn’t to raise funds, his goal was simply to make people think about the world’s refugees, and then to tell their friends about these people, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, just like us, but who are forced to live without security, and perhaps without clean water or shelter.

Known during his footballing days as ‘Heiden’, Bjorn passed through Ronda in late November 2009 and was greeted by the councillor for sport, Carlos Mirasol, and the children’s football league UD Ronda. Bjorn was presented with a CD Ronda and UD Ronda shirt, both of which have now been included in the world record breaking shirt (pictured above).

It is not too late to support Bjorn, he will be raising awareness for refugees throughout the FIFA World Cup, you can read more about his travels on the official ‘The Shirt 2010‘ website, or if you have a football shirt you’d like to donate to Bjorn’s campaign, please contact Ronda Today and we’ll make sure it gets to Bjorn.