Sporting champions, ambassadors for Spain
Homage to Fernando Alonso in Oviedo. Photo: Fernando Alonso Official Website
Pau Gasol with the Spanish team © Spanish Basketball Federation
Stage of the Tour of Spain in Green Spain © Unipublic
A national football team which is the World and European champion. A national basketball team which boasts the European Cup. A tennis player who is the winner of eight Roland Garros tournaments, two Wimbledons and an Olympic Gold Medallist. The winner of the Tour de France and the Giro de Italia. A driver who has twice been the World Formula 1 champion. Motorcyclists who have won the world title in three categories. This is just a part of the Spain's sporting showcase – don't miss the chance to experience it for yourself.
Pau Gasol, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Alberto Contador, Xavi Hernández and Jorge Lorenzo are just a few of the Spanish sports stars known all over the world for their triumphs. You'll have plenty of opportunities to see them in action in Spain, but we also propose a visit to the cities which saw these champions grow up, and to the places where they trained to shape themselves into truly elite sportsmen.
Rafa Nadal, 'the kid' from Manacor
Manacor is a seaside town, popular with holidaymakers, on the island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands. Here, and in Palma (Majorca) Rafa Nadal started his career in the world of tennis and went on to became a tennis idol known all over the world. And he goes back to Manacor whenever he can to celebrate his spectacular triumphs and to relax in the town he still calls his home. But the truth is that the winner of trophies such as Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the US and Australian Open and the Davis Cup has a thousand reasons to do so. Beaches with crystal-clear waters, delicious cuisine, a mild climate, an enviable range of water sports on offer, and numerous golf courses are just a few of the attractions.
Jorge Lorenzo, world champion
2010 was a decisive year for Spanish supremacy in international motorcycling, with the ultimate victory in the world championships in all three categories. One of brightest stars is Jorge Lorenzo, a native of Palma and also a frequent visitor to his native land, the Balearic Islands.
If you like motorcycle racing, Spain offers the chance to enjoy watching world champions such as Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Elías who have won as many as four Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez (Andalusia), Catalonia, the Region of Valencia and Aragon.
Pau Gasol and the European champions
Pau Gasol is the star and the Spanish national team are the 2011 and 2009 European basketball champions, and the world champions in 2006. This comes as no surprise to basketball lovers because the ACB, the national basketball league, has for many years been a real showstopper on the court. You can see some of their best matches in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia and Vitoria, where you'll also find a range of culture and leisure options which make these ideal cities for a short break.
Torres, Xavi, Cesc, Casillas… football stars
If the All-Star League was already an impressive highlight of their curriculum, they can now can now add their well-deserved triumphs in the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 and 2008 European Cup. The credentials needed to achieve these titles are simple: quality, offensive football to delight spectators. There are outstanding figures in the league, such as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Spanish national team has its own home-grown stars: those who thrill fans abroad, such as Fernando Torres, Reina and Silva; and stars who play in the Spanish championships such as Casillas, Puyol, Ramos, Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and Pedro, whose game can only be enjoyed in Spain. What's more, Spanish teams are once again among the favourites to win the Champions' League. If you like great football and want to experience it in the atmosphere it deserves, the home of the reigning world champions is an excellent destination.
Alonso and the only country with two major Formula 1 prizes
World champion in 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso is considered by many to be the best driver in the Formula 1 world championships. Deeply attached to his native city, Oviedo, in the region of Asturias in northern Spain, he has managed to revive enthusiasm for a sport which had been largely forgotten in Spain, Formula 1 motor racing. So much so that Spain today is the only country which offers the chance to enjoy this sport twice a year with the Spanish Grand Prix and the European Grand Prix. The first is held at the racetrack in Catalonia, and the second began in 2008 in the Region of Valencia with a spectacular urban circuit in the city of Valencia itself.
Spain, land of champion cyclists
Spanish cycling has always gone hand in hand with success. There is no doubt that the exploits of Miguel Indurain were the stuff of legend, but the figures of today are also very impressive: Alberto Contador is the winner of the Giro de Italia and the Tour de France; Carlos Sastre won the 2008 Tour; Óscar Pereiro won it in 2006; Samuel Sánchez is an Olympic gold medallist in road cycling; Joan Llaneras won gold and silver in track cycling events in the Olympic Games… Victory after victory go to confirm what good cyclists already know: Spain is the perfect country for this sport. In fact, its winners do a large part of their training in Spain, in places such as the Pyrenees, whose mountain passes include Bonaigua (Lleida); the mountains of Green Spain with the famous Alto del Angliru pass (Oviedo); and the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains (between Castile-León and Madrid). All these are key points on the route in the classic Vuelta de España cycle race, in which you can see many of these cyclists as you enjoy unique natural landscapes and World Heritage Cities such as Segovia and Cordoba.
Tennis, basketball, football, motor racing, motorcycle racing and cycling are just some of the sports where Spain is a key player, and five more reasons to pay us a visit. If you enjoy following these sports, you'll find top level competitions here in Spain. If you enjoy playing them yourself, you'll find Spain has exceptional sports facilities and wonderful natural settings. And, if you're interested in the athletes themselves and wish to learn more about them, you'll find that the cities where they were born and grew up offer a multitude of activities to help you better understand your idol, while you enjoy yourself at the same time.