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With autumn comes the third Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a España, returning for its 77th edition from August 19 to September 11, 2022. It will feature three opening days in the Netherlands, and is expected finish in Madrid. The race serves up massive climbs across familiar mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada, Picos de Europa and other areas as well as wind-swept flat days on the arid plains.
Each quadrennial the Vuelta is wedged between the Olympic Games and the World Championships, like 2021, but in 2022 the three-week race will end seven days before many of the top contenders will make the long haul to Woolongong, Australia for the Worlds, September 18-25.
It is sure to be an emotional escapade for Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who has announced he will retire after the 2022 season. Valverde, who won the 2009 Vuelta, announced he planned to skip the Tour de France and focus on the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta in his final year.
Spain is looking for a return of a champion on home soil, but also a stage winner. For the first time since 1996, a Spanish rider failed to win a stage at the Vuelta this past year. Riders to expect in the hunt for GC and stage glory include Valverde, 2014 Vuelta king of the mountain Luis León Sánchez, 2015 Vuelta stage winner Mikel Landa and 2020 Vuelta stage winner Mark Soler.
News and features
Team and rider news
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- Primoz Roglic: I'm not the cycling Terminator, that's not who I am
Vuelta a España route
The Vuelta a España will begin in the Netherlands in 2022 with a team time trial in Utrecht. It is the second time the Grand Depart has been held on Dutch soil, last in Assen in 2009. It is also only the fourth time the Spanish Grand Tour has started outside its home country, which included a start in Portugal in 1987 and France in 2017 in addition to the two editions in the Netherlands.
The original plans from 2020 included La Vuelta Holanda Grand Depart with three stages in the Netherlands, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the race to an 18-stage event in the Basque Country.
Utrecht will host the team presentation the day before the mid-August start, as well as the initial team time trial and the finish line for the second stage that will begin in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The third stage will cover a long loop around Breda, starting and finishing in the city.
Other stage venues and distances have still to be confirmed, with a full route announcement expected at the end of 2021.
Vuelta a España history
The Vuelta was first staged in 1935, but after two years was interrupted another four years because of the Spanish Civil War. It returned seven times between 1941 and 1954, to finally land as an annual event in 1955.
In its earliest years in the mid-1930s the Vuelta was a late spring race. It moved to a mid-summer slot in the 1950s then back to April. In 1995 it shifted a full five months to September where it has been a staple tune-up event for the World Championships.
Coming at the end of season each year, the Vuelta is always unpredictable and rarely sees a rider with multiple titles. Only one rider has won the red leader’s jersey four times, Roberto Heras doing so in 2000 and 2003-2005. There is a trio of riders with three titles each, most recently Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) adding a third consecutive victory in 2021. Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador also have three victories each, Rominger securing his consecutive streak from 1992-1994.
Roglic is also the only Slovenian to have won the Vuelta to date. His winning margin of 4 minutes and 42 seconds over Enric Mas was the largest time difference between first and second place in 24 years, when Alex Zülle took more than five minutes over Fernando Escartin.
Vuelta a España most successful riders
- Delio Rodríguez has won the most Vuelta a España stages with 39 in the 1940s
- Alejandro Valverde is the most successful active rider with 13 stage wins and one overall victory (2009)
- Alex Zülle has the most days in the leader's jersey with 48
- Roberto Heras has the most overall wins with four between 2000-2005, one of which he won back in court after being disqualified for doping
Vuelta a España 202219 August 2022 | Utrecht | WorldTour
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