Vuelta a Espana finale turns into political stand-off

Written by Staff Writer

Monday’s stage of the Vuelta a Espana, which ends this weekend in Madrid, may be just a race for the Spanish national team, but it has now become a political rallying cry between two neighboring nations — Chile and Brazil.

After a 38-second breakaway completed the tour’s first mountain stage at the foot of Alto de Potosi in central Chile, yellow jersey holder and individual winner of the stage, Pinot, was greeted by the crowd waving Chilean flags.

Pinot waves the flag of his home country, Chile. Daniel Baer

Joaquin Rodriguez, first overall at last year’s Vuelta, and fellow national team teammates rescued Pinot after the race leader had slipped down the mountain and appeared shaken.

As Brazilian blog MeiHectic – reported via Twitter, locals applauded Pinot’s crossing in salute of Chile’s flag.

But the march of an iconic yellow jersey into Chile, a country with which Brazil has long been at odds, has now sparked yet another epic battle.

Chileans reportedly wearing yellow and white. Daniel Baer

A website called, “Mexico vs. America: Battle of the Colors,” quickly went viral, stirring bitter arguments and accusations in forums on social media.

“The flags created an atmosphere of humiliation for Brazilians around the world,” wrote recentral comercio.com.br . “The fans chanted ‘Chile, Chile, Chile’ as they stormed Pinot’s team bus.”

Another blog, dfntl.net , also described Argentina’s triumph, saying the Chilean race had ‘humiliated’ Brazilian fans.

In a tweet, Brazil soccer legend Pele said: “Well, that was a beauty. Doesn’t seem like there is much history of Latin Americans in Europe. Anyway, nice celebration.”

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However, Bolivian star Omar Cummings tweeted a video of himself proudly waving a Brazilian flag in the middle of a crowd of fans cheering Pinot’s victory.

“I’m proud of my nationality,” Cummings added.

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