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La Vuelta exposes Spain’s rural exodus

Afternoons spent watching La Vuelta, watching and admiring largely unknown vistas and landscapes which are ignored but worthy of our attention. Wednesday’s stage was one such example in its route through the south of the province of Teruel, with its ravines, forests, towns and villages, all beautifully reflected on Spain's public television channel RTVE. RTVE comes under such frequent criticism that it’s a good opportunity to praise its methodical coverage of the locations, bringing, via helicopter, so many striking images of Spain's hidden corners into our living rooms.

Spain's rural exodus

On one side La Vuelta and its coverage reflects a country and its growth in major cities and coastlines. On the other, however, is a country of suffering and decline, the Spain of forgotten regions, of beauty and possibility that we are turning our back on. La Vuelta passes through these locations like some kind of fantastical merry-go-round - Alejandro Valverde and his rainbow jersey can speed through hundreds of places in which Messi will never play a single game. It brings locals and summer visitors out on the streets to enjoy the TV attention and watch the cyclists pass through. Perhaps just a fleeting moment but one sprinkled with stardust.


Incidentally, Wednesday’s stage was a beauty, with three unexpected breakaway leaders. In the gruelling climb up Javalambre it was exciting to see the how the underdogs would finish and to see the gap opening up between the favourites. Madrazo’s victory was just reward for Burgos BH, a team with limited financial resources in comparison to the rest. Wednesday was a great day for the Spaniard and his team, while behind him there was a changing of the guard as López reclaimed the overall lead. Viva La Vuelta!

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