La Vuelta a España starts in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on Friday

by Lorraine Williamson
La Vuelta

The 77th edition of La Vuelta a España 2022 will start in the Dutch city Utrecht this year. This year’s Tour again has a very attractive route with many mountain stages. The team presentations are on Thursday 18 August, the first stage takes place in Utrecht on Friday.  

La Vuelta should have started in Utrecht in 2020. However, due to the corona crisis, this did not happen. Because the start of La Vuelta 2021 was already fixed in Lombardia, all cards were successfully put on 2022. “We had to wait a while, but after the disappointment of that time the Spanish sun shines in our cycling hearts: La Vuelta is coming to the Netherlands!” writes Mayor Sharon Dijksma in the official programme booklet of La Vuelta Holanda.  

La Vuelta a España, the Tour of Spain, has a total of six flat stages, two of which have high altitude finishes. There are seven high mountain stages, four medium mountain stages and two time trials, one team stage and one individual stage. The various stages programme of the Tour of Spain is as follows: 

1. Utrecht – Utrecht (The Netherlands) 

The opening time trial will be longer than usual with 23.3 kilometres through the Dutch city along its wide avenues but without any technical complications.  

2. ‘s-Hertogenbosch – Utrecht (The Netherlands) 

The first flat stage of the edition. The only obstacle of the day is a 3rd category pass which will determine the first points in the battle for the mountain jersey.  

3. Breda – Breda (The Netherlands) 

This third stage is also completely flat with a guaranteed sprint finish and the riders will ride on terrain more typical of the Northern Classics than the Spanish races.  

4. Vitoria-Gasteiz – Laguardia  

After the three stages in the Netherlands, this will be the first stage on the peninsula with the Herrera pass at 15 kilometres from the finish.  

5. Irún – Bilbao  

A stage with no less than five mountain passes and it is the two climbs to the Vivero in the final part which will be responsible for the selection of the leading group.  

6. Bilbao – Ascensión al Pico Jano (San Miguel de Aguayo) 

A long and hard ride, with the finish in Pico Jano.  

7. Camargo – Cistierna  

The almost 200 kilometre long course follows a winding profile, with a climb to San Glorio almost at the halfway point of the race.  

8. La Pola Llaviana / Pola de Laviana – Colláu Fancuaya. Yernes and Tameza  

This first stage in Asturias has an altitude of more than 3,300 metres and consists of four climbs before the final climb of the Colláu Fancuaya, where it will be important for the favourites to save their strength for the final stretch.  

9. Villaviciosa – Les Praeres. Nava  

The first week of the race will end with this extremely tough stage, in which the riders will have to climb four passes before reaching Les Praeres and with a finish on the top of Nava, where their strength will be measured for four kilometres.  

10. Elche – Alicante  

The second individual time trial, completely flat over 30 kilometres. The favourites for the general classification should have no problems in this stage, while those with a more uphill profile may find it difficult.  

cogesa expats
11. El Pozo Alimentación – Cabo de Gata  

Stage with some steep climbs, where the sprinters should take advantage to put their teams to work. The riders are expected to finish in droves. 

12. Salobreña – Peñas Blancas (Estepona)  

The peloton will cross the province of Málaga from start to finish on this completely flat stage until the final climb to Peñas Blancas.  

13. Ronda – Montilla  

The route starts slightly winding, the second part is completely flat. Peñas Blancas can get tough, so can the heat. 

14. Montoro – Sierra de la Pandera  

This stage consists of two parts: a flatter part and a part with constant climbs. Those who wish to escape should do so before reaching La Pandera. This climb will test the climbers, because it is more difficult than it looks due to the narrow road and the rough tarmac.  

15. Martos – Sierra Nevada. Alto Hoya de la Mora. Monachil  

A mountain route with over 4,000 metres of cumulative difference in altitude, where the heat will undoubtedly be one of the day’s main players. It’s a long and demanding stage that was previously ridden in La Vuelta of 2017.  

16. Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Tomares  

After a well-deserved rest day, this stage is the last chance for the sprinters before reaching Madrid.  

17. Aracena – Monastery of Tentudía  

The riders will face a stage which will be tough on the legs, with continuous climbs and descents in the sweltering heat of Extremadura. 

18. Trujillo – Alto de Piornal  

A tough and beautiful route, climbing the Piornal on three different slopes: through La Desesperá, then via the monastery of Yuste and finally through the valley of Jerte.  

19. Talavera de la Reina – Talavera de la Reina  

The route may be short, but it is deceptive because this 130 kilometre stage goes over the Piélago pass.  

20. Moralzarzal – Puerto de Navacerrada  

This is a classic route in the Sierra de Guadarrama, with climbs to the Morcuera and Canencia passes, and two passes through Navacerrada.  

21. Las Rozas – Madrid. Paisaje de la Luz 

Last year the finish was in Santiago de Compostela, this year La Vuelta returns to the Spanish capital with a stage through the city’s main arteries. A feast for the riders! 

History 

La Vuelta a España was born in 1935. Like the Tour and Giro, the race was organised by a newspaper, Informaciones. The first two editions in 1935 and 1936 were won by the Belgian Gustaaf Deloor. Due to the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, the Vuelta was initially not held every year. Only from 1955 the Tour became an annual event. 

Spain most successful 

Spain is the most successful country in the history of the Vuelta. Roberto Heras is record winner with four final victories (2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005). Alberto Contador won the Tour three times (2008, 2012 and 2014). Around two dozen Spaniards have won it once or twice. Miguel Indurain did not manage to win La Vuelta. In 2011 Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins made history by being the first Brits on the podium in the Spanish tour. In 2017 Chris Froome was honoured as the first British winner of the Vuelta a España. Now he (with his two victories) is listed in the Top 10 great cyclists of the Vuelta. In 2018 a the British Simon Yates won.  

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