Inspired by Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, the Vuelta a España was launched in 1935. The very first race saw 50 hopeful entrants take on a gruelling 3,411 course over as little as 14 stages, averaging a distance of 240km in each stage. These days hundreds of riders compete every year! Although it has been occasionally prevented from being run in its early years, primarily due to wars, the race has taken place annually since 1955.
A winning format
The route changes every year, but the format remains the same. Riders take part in 21-day-long segments, called stages, over 23 days during which two days are allocated as rest days. Every Vuelta a España features a minimum of two time trials. Every year riders enjoy passing through the picturesque Pyrenees and complete the arduous journey in the Spanish capital Madrid. All stages are timed, and at the end of each stage, riders’ times are amalgamated with the times achieved in previous stages. The rider with the lowest aggregate is deemed as the leader, and so gets to wear the winning red jersey. The competitions held within the Vuelta a España make the race even more interesting. They include contests for climbers, all-round riders, sprinters and for teams. Each classification has a different colour jersey.
The mountains were the key in deciding the Vuelta
Even though the 2018 Vuelta a España route was specifically set to favour climbers, a category 2 climb near the beginning meant the race got off to a tough start. And this was closely followed by several category 3 climbs, a trend that is to continue all the way up to the finish line. This year the battle is fierce indeed! The route of the 2018 Vuelta a España is marked by a nine explosive summit finish stage and balanced by a short opening trial of 8km. Considering the climb halfway into the route, perhaps 8km was not that short after all.
A grand finish
As three weeks of intense and emotional racing will come to an end on 16 September in Madrid, the riders will enjoy the final urban circuit and the festivities around it as locals and tourists take to the streets in joyous celebration.
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