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The 38-year-old veteran vows to use his breakaway ambitions to help out his home region where he trains in southern Spain that was recently hit by wild fires. Last year, the mountains above Marbella in southern Spain where he lives and trains in the Sierra Bermeja were hit by wild fires, and left large swaths burned out.
To pay it forward, Maté donated 100 trees to a reforesting project and promises to donate one additional tree for every kilometer he rides in a breakaway during the 2022 Vuelta.
“I would have preferred never to have start an initiative like this, but unfortunately as everyone knows, last year a terrible fire burned out the Sierra Bermeja,” Maté said. “That’s my office, my home.”
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This year’s Vuelta route will pass nearby some of the affected areas during stage 12 finishing atop Peñas Blancas.
Officials from the Vuelta race organization and his team Euskaltel Euskadi are also joining the effort, with the Vuelta donating 200 trees to his 100, and Euskaltel Euskadi pitching in 300 new trees for the reforestation project.