The Vuelta a España is the third and final major tour of the season. Although not rated as highly as those of France and Italy, this year's Vuelta brings together some of the world's best riders, including this year's Giro d'Italia and last year's Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. Procycling's Peter Cossins focuses on the ins and outs of the Spanish grand tour with an A-Z of the Vuelta's key historical players and places
The maillot ORO (gold jersey) is the jersey worn by the race leader at the Vuelta. The leader's jersey has been both red and yellow in the past. The points and mountains jerseys have also changed colour with a degree of frequency. Last year a magenta jersey was awarded to points winner Daniele Bennati, while mountains victor Denis Menchov claimed a white, blue and grey tunic that was not dissimilar to the white jersey he also picked up for the combined prize awarded to the rider ranked highest in all three jersey competitions. The Vuelta does not offer a prize for the best young rider.
The Vuelta doesn't visit the PYRENEES every year. It does return regularly, though, usually lured in by cash offered by the owners of ski stations hoping to give their resorts a promotional boost. What is probably this year's toughest stage takes the riders 224km from Barbastro to the wonderfully named Naturlandia resort in Andorra. The stage concludes with a loop over the Alto de la Rabassa; on the second passing, the riders continue on for another 4km to Naturlandia, which is promoting itself as a year-round mountain resort. The following day brings another summit finish, this one at the favourite resort of the Spanish royal family, Pla de Beret. The resort hosted a finish of the 2006 Tour won by Denis Menchov.
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer and Tomas Nilsson)