Preview: Vuelta a España 2022


Vuelta a España 2022

The Vuelta a España or Spanish Grand Tour is Spain’s premier cycling race and has been held annually in the country for close to eight decades. This year’s race is set to begin at Utrecht on the 19th of August, meaning that the riders are now in their final stages of preparation, the route is being cleared, and the key stages and story are being disseminated from all Spanish media outlets daily.

While the Vuelta is less well-known on the world stage than some other national cycling races, it is still a huge event on the annual cycling calendar. The Spanish media’s eyes appear locked on the Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic who hopes to win a record-equaling fourth title in the race after a period of uncertainty over whether he would be fit to compete this year

Riders

The rest of the top riders in General Classification for the Spanish Grand Tour, as currently ranked by the 32Red betting site, are as follows:

Remco Evenepoel    7/2

Richard Carapaz       13/2

Jai Hindley                13/2

Joao Almeida             15/2

Simon Yates              9/1

Miguel Angel Lopez 14/1

Sergio Higuita            16/1

Enric Mas                   16/1

Carlos Rodriguez      16/1

This doesn’t tell the full story, however, as the number of real contenders in this race is far too vast for things to really take shape until the race begins. Evenepoel may be sitting at the top of the leaderboard right now, but question marks were raised over his Grand Tour potential after his performance in the 2021 Giro, when he made a promising start before falling way behind the pack as he began to challenge the tough dirt roads of Tuscany and the heavy slopes of the Zoncolan range.

Competitors such as Sergio Higuita and Jai Hindley will present a particular challenge, and there are rumors that Aleksandr Vlasov may yet be added to the German team’s Vuelta line-up still to be confirmed. Ben O’Connor is another rider who started this season keen to complete his Grand Tour ‘set’ of stage wins in this Vuelta, but his recent crash-ridden Tour may have given him, even more, drive to get more out of his 2022 race. Joao Almeida is in a similar position after being forced out of the Giro through illness, so Evenepoel certainly has a lot of challenges to overcome if he is to hold on to his current position for the duration of the race.

Key Stages

The Spanish Tour is divided into 21 key stages that stretch from Utrecht in the Netherlands before continuing on through Belgium, France, and on into Spain to finish in Madrid. The different stages vary dramatically in length, too, with the smallest being the 23.3km opening stretch whilst the longest is almost 200 km of flat terrain. Each stage is set to the clock, too, although the timings permitted are unlikely to challenge the caliber of contestants that compete in this level of competition.

Six of the toughest and most important stages of the race are listed below:

19th August                 18:30-20:22     23.3km, TTT                Utrecht to Utrect

23rd August                13:40-17:30     152.5km, Hilly               Vitoria-Gasteiz – Laguardia

28th August                12:40-17:30     171.4km, Mountain      Villaviciosa – Les Prairies Nava

2nd September           13:15-17:30     168.4km, Flat                 Ronda – Montilla

7th September            13:05-17:30     162.3km, Mountain      Aracana – Monasterio de Tentudia

11th September          17:10-19:58     96.7km, Flat                    Las Rozas – Madrid

Route

The route of this year’s Vuelta was originally planned to be raced in 2022, but the Dutch start was postponed due to worldwide events meaning that Utrecht will only complete its “big three” in 2022. That big three, by the way, is the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Spanish Tour – quite a set to complete in just five years, even including the postponement!

The route is essentially a “who’s who” of European cycling landmarks, kicking off in Holland with a long-time trial section of 23 km before opening out onto several flat and hilly stages as the race progresses through Belgium and Holland. The Vuelta team like to arrange their route with lots of uphill finishes, and there are a total of nine included in the race this year. Three of the toughest are in the first week at Pico Jano (Stage 6), Collado Fancuaya (Stage 8) and Prades (Stage 9).

The toughest stage of them all is surely the mountain stretch at Aracana, with 162.3km of distance to cover. Keeping tough stages until the end of the race is a surefire way to make sure that whoever is leading in the final days, will not breathe easy until they reach the final ceremonial stage through the flat streets of Madrid on September 11th.

 

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