Two giants of Spanish cycling, Miguel Indurain and Carlos Sastre, are to be the guests of honour at next week's 2012 Vuelta a Espana presentation in Pamplona, Spain. The eyes of the cycling world will be focussed on the city in the region of Navarre on January 11 as the route for the final grand tour of the 2012 season is announced.
The 2012 Vuelta is scheduled for August 18 to September 9, and it remains to be seen how much the quality of the field will be affected by the proximity of the London 2012 Olympics. The men's Olympic road race takes place on July 28, with the time trial scheduled for a few days later. The Olympics also come quickly after the 2012 Tour de France, which only finishes on July 22. It would surely be asking too much for the world's best cyclists to take in all three events in quick succession, and as a consequence of this the Vuelta could well be the one to suffer most.
However, the presence of Indurain and Sastre is sure to add plenty of gloss to the presentation party. Neither managed to win their home grand tour during their careers but the newly-retired Sastre showed incredible consistency by finishing in the top 10 seven times, including three podium spots, while he also won the Tour de France in 2008. Indurain is widely regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time. His best finish in the Vuelta was second place in 1991, but he enjoyed five consecutive victories at the Tour de France between 1991 and 1995 and also has two Giro d'Italia wins on his palmares.