Luis Ángel Maté completed his 10th Vuelta a España on Sunday, but has not stopped riding. After racking up 3,500km over the course of the race, the Spaniard is adding another 1000km as he rides home.
Maté, who rides for the Euskaltel Euskadi team, lives on Spain’s south coast, in Marbella, leaving him to travel almost the length of Spain to get back from Santiago de Compostela, where the Vuelta finished on Sunday.
Describing himself as “still hungry for more”, Maté is bikepacking home over the course of six days, dubbing his ride the ‘Vuelta de la Vuelta‘ – or, the return from the Vuelta.
“When I saw the the Vuelta was finishing in Santiago de Compostela, the idea of doing an adventure like this immediately sprang to mind,” Maté wrote in a column for Volata, saying he was inspired by the ‘Camino’ pilgrimage trail that ends in Santiago.
“It seemed a unique opportunity to be able to enjoy the bike in a different way to competition and all the stress, the braking, the crashes, the watts… I simply wanted to grab my bike and ride home without using a plane or a car, under my own steam, in order to be in harmony with myself and my surroundings. It’s a precious journey that I need to do to break that cycle you get into after three weeks of racing.”
Maté, 37, has been a professional cyclist for 14 years, spending the bulk of his career at French squad Cofidis. This year he joined the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi squad, which returned to the professional ranks and to the Vuelta a España after a seven-year absence.
Although the team didn’t manage to win a stage, Maté said he would be spending his time on the bike reflecting on the team’s achievements over the past three weeks, and his own in racking up 207 completed Vuelta stages.
“For me, cycling is more than a sport or a job; it’s a way of understanding life and knowing who you are,” Maté wrote.
“This will be my period of decompression in which I’ll have time to gain perspective on a number of things, both thinking about nothing at all, as well as thinking about many of the things we’ve achieved in the past days.”
Maté set off on Monday and is currently working his way down through Portugal. Accompanied by a friend, he is staying in hotels, with a light load attached to his Orbea race bike.
“I’ve told myself I’ll arrive by Saturday at midday to have a dip in the sea and a meal at home,” he said.