Tomorrow is the start of the 2022 Vuelta Espana (the Tour of Spain). It is the last major UCI stage race of the season and is part of the Grand Tour triple crown for pro cyclists. The other two races are, of course, the Giro d’Italia and Le Tour de France.
This year the race begins on Friday, August 19th and concludes on Sunday, September 11, 21 days of racing that will cover 2,038 miles (3,280 kilometers). The first stage is a team time trial and, much like the other two major stage races mentioned above, the race starts in a country outside Spain. For 2022, the race starts in Utrecht, a Dutch city in the Netherlands.
The Vuelta Espana was first held in 1935 but was interrupted by both the Spanish Civil War and World War II, although the race still occurred. The race typically takes place in the late summer, but initially, it took place in the late spring. Eventually, it was moved to later in the year to avoid conflict with the Giro d’Italia and Le Tour de France. But since 1955, the Vuelta Espana has consistently occurred without interruption.
Just like the Giro and Le Tour, the Vuelta was first sponsored by a newspaper (La Gazzetta dello Sport) to increase sales. Although the route changes every year, the format of the race remains the same. The course usually includes three time trials and several mountain stages, one of which is the Alto de L’Angliru that is considered the steepest climb in Europe with grades of 23% and an elevation of over 5,000 feet.
While the Vuelta Espana is recognized as a world tour event by the UCI and teams from all over the world participate, originally the race was an event only for Spanish riders. That fact aside, the race has been dominated by Spanish cyclists, most famously Robert Heras who won the race four times.
And just as with the Giro d’Italia and its pink leader jersey and the Le Tour de France with its yellow leader jersey, the leader jersey for the Vuelta is red (maillot rojo), although prior to this change it was yellow then gold. Additionally, and just like the other two races, jerseys are also awarded to the rider with the best time in the mountains and the rider with the most overall points.
Have you ever been to Spain? Have you ever ridden your bike on any of the roads used in the Vuelta Espana?
Please like, comment, and share this post. There are a little less than two weeks left in August and summer is slowly but surely winding down. So, get out there and ride, stay safe, and have a great weekend!