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On a sticky August morning and with the Mediterranean Sea as the backdrop, the mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, held a "twinning" presentation to bring together two major sporting events that are to take place in the capital of Catalonia: the first, the start of Spain's major multi-stage cycle race, La Vuelta a España, this Saturday; and futher ahead, the celebration of the America's Cup of yachting, which takes place in 2024. Javier Guillén, director of the cycling event, and Grant Dalton, former Round the World yachtsman and executive director of the America's Cup, both emphasised the city's welcome to their events as well as speaking of the importance of links between sports. The presentation ceremony took place on the city's Somorrostro beach, not far from Barceloneta, which, as Collboni explained to his guests, used to be a neighbourhood of shanty housing, where 15,000 people lived "in subhuman conditions although they aspired to live better". "Now it's something else, a free and open space, accessible to everyone and which expresses the progress of the city and its desire to improve the quality of life", asserted the Socialist mayor, while Dalton showed himself very surprised to learn about this part of Barcelona's history.

roda de premsa vuelta i copa america carlos baglietto
Press conference by Jaume Collboni, Javier Guillén and Grant Dalton / Photo: Carlos Baglietto

Collboni expresses pride in Barcelona's impact and projection through sport

Collboni, who during the electoral campaign for the municipal elections on May 28th - in which he came second behind Xavier Trias - kept insisting on the importance of recovering major sporting events for Barcelona, after the end of the Ada Colau era. This Friday he defended that these kinds of celebrations "contribute to improving the city", taking advantage of the "positive and constructive" international projection, apart from the economic benefits. "Sporting events help us to get the best of Barcelona seen all over the world", insisted the PSC mayor, explaining that this weekend more than a thousand news professionals will report the start of the Vuelta all over the planet.

In addition, he also highlighted that both the cycling and sailing competitions will be free for all Barcelona residents and visitors, which makes them two democratic events for everyone. However, he also reminded those who want to enjoy the weekend of sports on the streets of Barcelona to use public transport, specifically the metro network, as traffic will suffer very significant effects due to the Vuelta time trial on Saturday. Specifically, traffic in the districts of Sant Martí and Eixample will be seriously disrupted for most of Saturday. On Sunday afternoon there will be further effects to traffic due to the end of the Vuelta's second stage, which starts in Mataró and finishes on Barcelona's Montjuïc mountain.

The events, enthusiastic about Barcelona: "The best setting"

Javier Guillén, director of the Vuelta, endorsed all of Collboni's words and underlined the importance of partnering with other events, albeit from different sports, such as the America's Cup: "We identify with internationalization, since we also look towards the world; as we promote sustainability, something very important at the moment, and because of the race settings", he explained, asserting that this start of the Vuelta beside the Mediterranean "is the most beautiful starting setting we have ever had". He also wanted to invite the residents of Barcelona to enjoy the show and reminded them that in the coming months the Catalan capital will also be the capital of the sporting world due to other events.

In the same vein, New Zealander Grant Dalton also waxed enthusiastic about the bringing together of these two competitions, ensuring that "everyone has a cyclist inside them", including him. He also joked about the fact that in his country of origin the most successful sports are rugby, cycling and sailing and he was convinced that the entire team that is part of the organization of the America's Cup will follow these first stages closely. Like Guillén, he also wanted to thank the city for agreeing to host the major yachting event: "I can't think of a better place [for the cycle race start], with the sea in the background. Barcelona is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet", he concluded.