Vuelta’22 Preview: The Vuelta a España, the final Grand Tour of the yr, begins on Friday with a staff time trial in Utrecht, Netherlands. Ed Hood provides us his ideas on the powerful Spanish tour and who might be in ‘rojo’ on the end in Madrid. Can Primoz Roglič make it 4 in a row?
Let’s get straight to the purpose; ‘Can Remco make the rostrum?’ Or, as PEZ mentor and soothsayer, Vik repeatedly tells me; ‘he’s a Classics rider, Lefevere is losing his time placing him in three week stage races.’ Maintain that thought and we’ll come again to it. . .
Is a 3 week race one of the best concept for Evenepoel?
The Vuelta is the youngest of the three Grand Excursions; the Grande Boucle was first run in 1903 while the Corsa Rosa goes again to 1909 – so with a birthday of 1935 the Vuelta is the youngest of the three best stage races on earth.
The primary Vuelta a España
It didn’t have a very good childhood, no sooner born than progress was interrupted by the Spanish Civil Warfare, it lurched by the darkish days of World Warfare Two and Franco’s reign earlier than changing into the absolutely grown and most relaxed of the triplet of three week stage races it’s now.
Spain’s final Vuelta winner – Alberto Contador 2014
This yr might be version 77 and of these the house nation has triumphed in 33 of them. France is a distant second on 9 GC wins; however while it was eight years in the past when Alberto Contador took his third Vuelta [2008/12/14] you need to go all the best way again to 1995 and Laurent Jalabert to seek out the final Frenchman to win. Spain additionally has most stage wins, 500 plus with Belgium second on some 200-odd and it was additionally a Belgian who received the primary Vuelta approach again in 1935, Gustaaf Deloor.
1935 Vuelta motion
Roberto Heras (Spain) is ‘recordman’ on 4 wins [2000/3/4/5] and 34 days within the chief’s jersey, however while Alex Zulle (Switzerland) ‘solely’ received the race twice [‘96 & ‘97] he holds the file for days as race chief on 48 levels.
Heras the Vuelta ‘recordman’
Of present riders it’s ‘Inexperienced Bullet’ – as he was recognized in his Kelme days – Alejandro Valverde who tops the checklist of management days on 27 with the retired Alberto Contador on 26.
Scotland’s personal Robert Millar is respectably excessive within the ‘days of management’ stakes on 13 and two second locations on GC; there ought to have been at the least one win in there however these Spanish combines and his staff supervisor’s ineptitude did for that dream – finest not get me too into that topic, I get emotional. . .
Robert Millar in Vuelta yellow
Merckx has ‘solely’ 9 days of management and one GC win in 1973 – with the Vuelta simply days earlier than the Giro again then he by no means returned; unpleasantly shocked by the continuous, dying or glory driving of the Spanish Kas staff mountain males who made certain it was no simple win for the large Belgian. Merckx is among the ‘Huge Seven’ who’ve received all three of the Grand Excursions together with Jacques Anquetil and Felice Gimondi [rest in peace], Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome – that different stage race Colossus, Miguel Indurain by no means managed to win his dwelling tour.
Kelly and Caritoux – Vuelta winners
The closest successful margin was six seconds for Eric Caritoux (France) over Alberto Fernandes (Spain) in 1984. By the way, it’s usually accepted that Caritoux received that race ‘clear,’ based on those that know.
Thirty-nine Vuelta stage wins for Delio Rodriguez
The file variety of stage wins falls to Delio Rodriguez on 39 however that was approach again within the 1940’s – in latest instances ‘Ale Jet’ Petacchi racked up 20 while in 1977 Freddy Maertens (Belgium) received a outstanding 13 levels en route the general victory.
Freddy Maertens within the Vuelta’77 TT in Benidorm
Most consecutive finishes belongs to Federico Echave (Spain) who rode and completed each Vuelta between 1982 and 1995, Iñigo Cuesta began 17 instances however was DNS on three events.
Iñigo Cuesta began la Vuelta 17 instances
And to shut, the quickest Vuelta was 2001 when Ángel Casero (Spain) received at 42.534 kph – he was a Festina man so maybe that explains it?
Ángel Casero – Quick Festina man
The ‘Bull Ring.’
- The primary three levels will happen within the Netherlands.
- There are 21 levels: six ‘flat’ – 4 ‘mid-mountain’ – seven ‘excessive altitude finales’ – two ‘uphill finales’ – one particular person time trial and one staff time trial.
- It should go to 20 provinces and 352 municipalities over some 3,280 kilometres.
- The shortest highway stage is the 96.7 kilometres of the ultimate stage into Madrid.
- The longest highway stage is the 193.2 kilometres of Stage Three in The Netherlands, Breda-Breda.
- The best level is on the 2,512 metres of ‘la cima Alberto Fernandez’ end on stage 15
The large mountains might be essential, for certain – however in a Grand Tour, ‘day-after-day is a GC day’ – let’s run by them:
Stage One TTT: 23.3K in The Netherlands and pan flat – INEOS Grenadiers? Fast-Step? Jumbo Visma? – count on warp speeds. For those who’re a thin climber, it’s solely gonna be 23 minutes, Amigo.
Stage 1 TTT
Stage Two: For the quick twitch guys.
Stage Three: The race dips into Belgium and it’s one other day for Tim Merlier. . .
The Vuelta hits Holland and little little bit of Belgium
Stage 4: Again within the House Land, form of, truly the Basque Nation; it may be for the break OR a Valverde/Alaphilippe/Matthews day with that uphill finale?
A tricky first day in Spain – Stage 4
Stage 5: Too powerful for the pure quick twitch guys – it may very well be a GC rider who takes this one?
Stage Six: The primary, and a really powerful, summit end will give us large hints and concerning who’s scorching – and who’s not. . .
Stage Seven: An uncommon profile, it may very well be a GC man once more or a ‘baroudeur’ however it’s unlikely to be a pure quick man even on condition that drop to the end. . .
A wierd profile for stage 7
Stage Eight: One phrase? Savage.
Stage 9: One other summit end on certainly one of Viktor’s hated ‘goat tracks,’ with killer ramps to finish one other very taxing day.
Stage 9 ‘goat tracks’
Stage 10: A time check, slightly below 20 miles, flat and quick – for the specialists or Primoz – or Remco. . .
Stage 10 TT for Evenepoel
Stage 11: The break will go – however as Fraser used to say within the British TV sitcom, ‘Dad’s Military’; ‘They’re doomed!’ For the sprinters.
Stage 12: OK, that’s sufficient of that sprinter nonsense – ANOTHER summit end. . .
Stage 12 on the south coast
Stage 13: It might go both approach, dash or breakaway – but when it’s the latter there’ll must large wattages up that highway.
Break or bunch on stage 13
Stage 14: It finishes on the troublesome La Pandera ascent, sufficient stated. . .
La Pandera to complete stage 14
Stage 15: If John McEnroe was on this peloton, we all know what he’d say about this end at 2,512 metres; ‘you can’t be critical!’ The day you’ll be able to lose the Vuelta.
How excessive? Sure, 2,512 metres
Stage 16: In all probability for the sprinters, BUT I as soon as noticed Oscar Gatto win on a stage profile like this within the Giro with a madcap late solo assault.
Stage 17: For the adventurers. . .
Stage 17 to the Monasterio de Tentudría
Stage 18: If the phrase ‘Alto’ seems within the end title it’s by no means a very good factor if you happen to’re, ‘large boned.’
Stage 18 – be careful for the ‘Alto’
Stage 19: For those who loved the Puerto del Pialago then you definately’re in luck – you get to climb it twice in the present day. This one for the breakaway.
Stage 19 – Anybody for a break?
Stage 20: Three first and two second cat, climbs with a summit end – might all of it come right down to in the present day? Unlikely; by now everybody simply desires to get dwelling. . .
The final climb of the 2022 Vuelta a España – Puerta de Navacerrada
Stage 21: Round these beautiful fountains; I’d like to see Jake Stewart win. . .
Into Madrid for the finalé
BUT does it actually must be so rattling mountainous?
First up, let’s tip our hats to 4 earlier winners who’re on the beginning line as we go to press however can’t win this version:
- Chris Froome [Israel-Premier Tech & GB] twice a winner has by no means regained the extent he was at earlier than that horror crash on the 2019 Dauphine however carried out with honour on the Tour de France this yr, nonetheless . . .
- Vincenzo Nibali [Astana & Italy] is among the choose group of riders who’ve received all three Grand Excursions and have to be revered – however that Father Time dude is simply not ‘into’ sentiment. . .
- Nairo Quintana [Arkea Samsic & Colombia] loved his ordinary robust begin to the yr and was a strong sixth within the Tour de France however the days of a Tour/Vuelta ‘double’ are gone. . .
- Alejandro Valverde [Movistar & Spain] is a outstanding man, he’s received this race, 12 levels alongside the best way and completed within the high 10 on levels a outstanding 113 instances – I’d like to see a stage win however. . .
The previous Toreros
Respects paid, right here’s our ‘baker’s dozen. . .
João Almeida [UAE Team Emirates & Portugal] was driving a robust Giro – after which alongside got here Covid. Since he got here again he’s received his nationwide title and was second in Burgos; tenacious and robust towards the watch however a number of the mega climbs would possibly simply be a wee bit an excessive amount of for him.
João Almeida – The climbs may very well be an excessive amount of
Hugh Carthy [EF-Education Easy Post] was ever-aggressive and high 10 within the Giro, he was on the rostrum right here two years in the past and received on the legendary Angliru. Spain is the place he discovered his commerce with Caja Rural and people loopy ascents swimsuit his traits.
Hugh Carthy at dwelling in Spain
Richard Carapaz [INEOS Grenadiers & Ecuador] Olympic Champion, Giro winner in 2020 and second right here in 2020 he’ll be recovered from letting the Giro slip by his fingers again in Could – he can win it.
A greater Vuelta than his Giro – Carapaz
Remco Evenepoel [Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl & Belgium] favorite with lots of the bookies – however as I discussed proper initially, not with Viktor. Count on a robust early displaying and a time trial win however a podium is unlikely.
Can Remco Evenepoel do one thing?
Jack Haig [Bahrain Victorious & Australia] was on the rostrum final yr, I tipped him for a very good journey within the Tour however a type of infamous, ‘Tour early crashes’ noticed that chance evaporate. A person with a degree to show.
Jack Haig – Prime tip
Ethan Hayter [INEOS Grenadiers & GB] he can climb, dash and time trial – and has simply received the Tour of Poland, his largest win but. We observe with nice anticipation his Grand Tour debut.
Tour of Poland winner – Ethan Hayter
Jai Hindley [BORA-hansgrohe & Australia] he received the Giro, is a double attainable? We all know he can climb with the easiest however does he have the motivation?
Hindley a attainable
Miguel Ángel López [Astana & Colombia] again from his latest brush with the authorities – we’ll say no extra – he was nicely to the fore in Burgos and has been on the rostrum right here earlier than. The query is; ‘at 28 years-of-age, is he nonetheless Sooper?’
Something might occur with ‘Sooperman’
Enric Mas [Movistar & Spain] has twice been second on this race however he stays firmly in my, ‘Simply Tough to Drop’ file, not often happening the offensive. He dropped out of the Tour late with Covid however all these levels could be nonetheless be in his legs?
Enric Mas – Tough to drop
Ben O’Connor [AG2R Citroën & Australia] did somebody say; ‘one other Aussie with a degree to show?’ Fourth within the Tour final yr, he went into the 2022 version of, ‘The Huge Loop’ with excessive hopes off the again of a wonderful Dauphine – then there was the crash. . . If his head is true then he can contend; we all know he can deal with these large mountain days.
O’Connor – One thing to show
Primoz Roglič [Jumbo-Visma & Slovenia] at time of writing he’s on the beginning checklist however it’s not sure he’s utterly recovered from the 2 damaged vertebrae he sustained in his Tour de France crash – if he’s then he’s the person to beat with the final three editions of this race notched on his high tube.
Vuelta win No.3 for Roglič
Michael Woods [Israel-Premier Tech & Canada] there’s no query about his climbing talents and he has two Vuelta stage wins to his title – however has he recovered from le Tour the place he rode all however the final stage earlier than the dreaded Covid (+)?
One other Vuelta stage win for Woods
Simon Yates [BikeExchange-Jayco & GB] has received this race earlier than however regardless of successful Castilla y Leon lately and ending sixth in Donostia his kind is infamously vulnerable to ‘curler coaster-ing’ – witness the Giro the place he received the Stage Two time trial, slumped then got here again to win Stage 14 earlier than quitting the race. To make use of the previous cliché, ‘the highway will resolve’ for Simon.
Vuelta win for Yates?
Libation suggestions? San Miguel and Alhambra for beers and if you want to mellow-out after the thrill of a summit end then go for Soberano or Veterano brandies – they’re not for sophisticates however they hit the spot.
Alhambra from the south of Spain ought to hit the spot
It wouldn’t be la Vuelta with no track
# Preserve it PEZ for the day by day ‘Stage Studies’, ‘Relaxation-day Spherical-ups’, ‘Race Breakdowns’ and all of the information in ‘EUROTRASH’ Monday and Thursday. Viva la Vuelta! #