|This study has demonstrated that throughout the region’s history,
cycling has been part of the projection of Basque modernity and distinction
from the Spanish state. Cycle sport can also be seen to have provided a
nationalist focus that mirrors that of football. Despite the Franco era
curtailing the explicit use of sport as a nationalist tool by the regions,
since 1975 overt Basque nationalism has evidently been promoted via the
capitalist sponsorship of cycle sport and has culminated in one of the
strongest examples of a correlation between sport and national identity.
There are many areas within this initial study which require more in
depth analysis. These will be expanded upon following a number of visits to
the Basque Country itself and interviews with key protagonists. However, the
study does provide an initial investigation of the links between cycle sport
and nationalism in the Basque Country, which should lead to a subsequent
post-graduate study or independent publication.
It remains the case that the Basque Country provides a fascinating and in
many ways unique use of sport as a nationalist medium. The interaction
between the region’s businesses and the nationalist nature of the Euskadi
team has not been truly rivalled in any other Spanish region, despite failed
attempts in Galicia and Catalunya. Furthermore, the different utilisation of
sporting events by the capitalists and ETA, provides an interesting
comparative example of how to promote nationalist claims at an international
level. Whilst militants attempted to block the progress of stage 16 of the
1996 Tour de France on route to the Spanish border, most Basques rejected
any disruption of the event. International recognition of Basque
sensibilities was made by the Société du Tour de France, as all race
publicity and information was written in French and Euskera. All Euskadi
Foundation material is published in Euskera and Spanish, whilst El Diario
Vasco has published all San Sabastián Classic information in Euskera,
Spanish and French.1
The remarks of the German winner of the 1996 San Sabastian Classic, Udo
Bolts, “I looked at the race programme this morning and saw Lance
(Armstrong) wearing the Basque hat they give the winner each year - I
thought I’d really like one of those. The Basque Country is very special,
the people here love cycling”, expresses the recognition which Basques
have achieved in cycle sport. Of symbolic cultural significance is the
presentation of the Basque beret to the winner.2
The use of nationalist symbolism and imagery in Basque cycling remains
unmatched by other sports. Its international prestige sets it apart from
native sports such as pelota. The themes embodied in this study confirm that
cycle sport has provided a significant form of nationalist expression,
through which the Basque Country has promoted its unique identity. It also
demonstrates that cycling unlike any other modern sport, including football,
has been constantly inter-twined with the very development of Basque
nationalism from the 1890’s to the present day.
1. El Diario Vasco: Organizaciones Deportivas, San Sabastián Clásica
2. Press Conference as quoted in Cycling Weekly, IPC Magazines, UK, 1996.
1: Newspapers and Journals
a) Newspapers and Magazines:
ABC, (29 September 1996.)
Diario 16, (19 February 1989.)
El Pais, (15 July 1994.)
Gazzetto Dello Sport, (5 January 1997.)
Marca, (14 July 1992, 8 July 1994, 17+18 July 1996, 11 September 1996.)
Cycle Sport, IPC Magazines UK. (August 1994, May 1995, August 1995, October
1995, November 1995, March 1996, July 1996, November 1996, February 1997,
March 1997, April 1997).
Cycling Weekly, IPC Magazines UK. (6 and 20 July 1996, 12 August 1996).
J. Harrison, “The Regenerationist Movement in Spain After the Disaster of
1898”, European Studies Review, vol 9, number 1, January 1979.
J. Harrison, “Big Business and the Rise of Basque Nationalism”, European
Studies Review, number 7, 1977.
S.G. Jones, “The European Workers’ Sports Movement”, European History
Quarterly, vol 18, 1988.
S.G. Payne, “Catalan and Basque Nationalism”, Journal of Contemporary
History, vol 6, number 1, 1971.
B. Anderson, Imagined Communities, Verso, London, 1983.
J. Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, Manchester University Press, GB,
R. Carr, Modern Spain, Opus, Hong-Kong, 1980.
R. Carr & J.P. Fusi, Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy, UK, 1979.
J. Evans, The Guiness Book of Cycling Facts and Feats, Guiness Publishing,
José Luis de la Granja Sainz, El Navionalismo Vasco: Un Siglo de Historia,
M. Heiberg, The Making of the Basque Nation, CUP, GB, 1989.
J.A. Mangan, Tribal Identities: Nationalism, Europe, Sport, Frank Cass,
S.G. Payne, Basque Nationalism, University of Nevada Press, USA, 1975.
P. Preston, Franco, Fontana, London, 1995.
P. Preston, Politics of Revenge, Routledge, London, 1995.
P. Preston, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, Routledge, London, 1996 edn.
J. Sullivan, ETA and Basque Nationalism: The Fight for Euskadi 1890-1986,
Routledge, London, 1988.
C. Williams, National Separatism, (ed), University of Cardiff, Wales, 1982.
3: Unpublished Work
D.R. Shaw, “The political instrumentalisation of football in Francoist
Spain, 1939-1975”, University of London Phd Thesis, Queen Mary & Westfield,
L. Shand, “Centre Periphery Relations: The Basque Region of Northern Spain”,
University of London, LSE MA dissertation, 1989.
4: Other Sources
Euskadi Cycle Team Foundation, information brochure, number 2, 1996.
Federe Ciclismo, Vuelta a España, programme, 1996.