Vuelta a España 2019 race guide: Three action-packed weeks await the peloton
Aug 24 2019 05:27 am CET

Vuelta a España 2019 race guide: Three action-packed weeks await the peloton
Vuelta a España 2019 race guide: Three action-packed weeks await the peloton
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The Vuelta a España 2019 kicks off in the Salinas de Torrevieja, Alicante, and will follow a route that includes eight mountain finishes, stages for the fast men and others suitable for the breakaway. Three-weeks of action-packed cycling await the riders and fans alike.

History

Ten years in Red

Although the first edition of the Vuelta a España took place in 1935, the leaders of the General Classification haven't dressed in red all those years. The riders that topped the overall standings originally got to wear orange, then white, yellow -like in the Tour de France- and gold.

It was in 2010 when the organisation of the Spanish grand tour decided to change the colour of the jersey to red, a switch that has made it memorable to the international public. The first rider to ever wear 'La Roja' was Mark Cavendish on the night of the 24th of August of 2010 after a team time trial in the city of Sevilla.

When the current director of the Vuelta a España Javier Guillen took the reins of the race, he decided to put the jersey in the colour that identified Spain in sports at a time where the country was having big success with the national football team -the selection won the World Cup of 2010 and the European championships of 2008 and 2012.

The rider that has worn the Red Jersey the most so far is Chris Froome (Team Ineos) with a total of 27 days. He is followed by Vincenzo Nibali with 20 days, Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez with 17 days, Nairo Quintana with 14 days, Simon Yates with 11 days, Fabio Aru with seven days, and Esteban Chaves and Tom Dumoulin with six.

Other riders like Philippe Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde, Bradley Wiggins, Michal Kwiatkowski, Rohan Dennis, Jesús Herrada, Jakob Fuglsang, Bauke Mollema, Nicolas Roche, David de la Cruz and Yves Lampaert, have worn it less than five days. Up until now, seven riders have worn the leader jerseys of all three Grand Tours: Nibali, Froome, Contador, Aru, Wiggins, Cavendish and Dennis.

Winners of the last 10 editions:

2009 Alejandro Valverde
2010 Vincenzo Nibali
2011 Chris Froome
2012 Alberto Contador
2013 Chris Horner
2014 Alberto Contador
2015 Fabio Aru
2016 Nairo Quintana
2017 Chris Froome
2018 Simon Yates

The route

The 2018 Vuelta a España will have enough action for all the riders specialized in every terrain. Two time trials will put pressure on the pure climbers to avoid losing any time to the favourites that perform better in the fight against the clock. The mountain goats do however have eight uphill finishes in which they can win time back. Although the real flat stages are limited, the sprinters will also have their moment to shine throughout the race, including the closing stage in Madrid.

First week

The race kicks off with a 18-kilometre team time trial with the spectacular background of the Salinas de Torrevieja. The next two stages, the race stays on the Costa Blanca -popular for the winter training camps of several WorldTour teams- and will take the peloton through a hilly profile in which breakaway riders, classic specialists or even sprinters could take advantage.

The fourth stage of the Grand Tour will be the first very flat stage that offers the first showcase for the sprinters. The fifth stage has a finish on the Observatorio Astrofisico de Javalambre and will be the first opportunity for the climbers and a good test for the general classification riders with a finish on a first category climb.

The sixth day will also have an uphill finish on the Puerto de Ares -third category, and the seventh will have the finale on the first category ascent of the Alto Mas de la Costa. The next day brings a new chance for the fast men or the breakaway and the week finishes in Andorra, with a day that will take the riders through a mountainous course that includes one hors category climb -Col de la Gallina- and two first-category ascents, including the finale.

Second week

The second week of competition of the Spanish grand tour starts with a 36.2-kilometre long individual time trial between Jurançon and Pau in France, after which the peloton will face two hilly stages that could bring some differences in the General Classification. The 12th stage will be very demanding with four climbs of the third category, two of the second and a final hors-category climb on the already infamous Alto de Los Machucos on which Alberto Contador took his last stage victory in the race in 2017.

The next day the sprinters will shine once more before two more gruelling days in the mountains: the 13th stage which includes four cat-1 climbs including the final ascent and the 14th, which has two first-category climbs and a finale to the Alto de la Cubilla -hors-category.

Third week

The last week of competition starts with a flat stage that will be followed by a mountain route between Colmenar Viejo and Becerril de la Sierra, featuring four first-category climbs but has a downhill finale. The week continues with another day for the fast men before the final test for the GC riders: a 189-kilometre stage between Arenas de San Pedro and the Plataforma de Gredos with two climbs of the first category and an uphill finish.

Following tradition, the race will finish on a city circuit in Madrid, which will be 106.6 kilometres long.

Favourites

**** Primoz Roglic, Miguel Angel Lopez
*** Jakob Fuglsang, Steven Kruijswijk, Rigoberto Uran
** Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves, Alejandro Valverde
* Wout Poels, Fabio Aru, Rafal Majka, Tadej Pogacar
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