In the year 1935, 50 cyclists set out on the very first La Vuelta a España from Spain´s intriguing and charming capital of Madrid. Despite the ever-growing turmoil in Europe during this time, with the Spanish Civil War on the rise and World War II looming not far ahead, these riders braved the 3,425 km, 14 stage race from the 29th of April until the 15th of May. In the end, Belgian rider Gustav Deloor claimed victory over the very first grand cycling tour of Spain, but the celebration of the race was cut short due to civil war activities. In 1936, with the official eruption of the war in Spain led by dictator Francisco Franco, and the resulting high tensions this placed on the Spanish people, it was unclear whether or not La Vuelta would take place that year until the very day the race was supposed to begin. Against all odds, 53 riders took off from Madrid once again, and Deloor saw his second consecutive victory.
Through the Years
The Spanish Civil War prevented another Vuelta tour from taking place up until 1941, when Spain would see its third installment. And, with the rest of Europe occupied with the events of World War II, Spain saw an almost all Spanish population ride the third race. For the first time in Vuelta history, a Spanish cyclist claimed victory, and Julian Berrendero Martín will forever be known as the first Spanish rider to ever win La Vuelta. It is clear that La Vuelta a España has continually proven itself as a race not to be reckoned with as, despite numerous setbacks, the race has been held almost every year since 1942 to an audience of enthralled cycling enthusiasts worldwide, and has certainly gained the admiration of the Spanish people. So, with such an exciting and suspenseful history, what could La Vuelta have in store this year for its eager cycling competitors?
This Year´s Race
This 22nd of August, 22 teams of cyclists will be competing for the coveted red jersey and a victory at La Vuelta, one of the biggest cycling races in the world and one of the three grand cycling tours. This year´s race is shaping up to be more exciting than ever before, with six flat stages, 13 hill and mountain stages, as well as one team time trial and one individual time trial stage in the sweltering heat of the Spanish summer. What´s more, this year La Vuelta is introducing a number of new cities for stage startsand finishes, as well as a grand total of nine mountain top finishes in the first two weeks. And did we mention these nine mountain top finishes have never before been taken on in any Vuelta course in its over 70 year run? Or that this year´s stage in Andorra is, according to Movistar team boss Eusebio Unzue, “the most demanding stage (he´s) ever seen in a grand tour?”* With well known competitors like Vincenzo Nibali, Aljeandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, the second place finisher in this year´s Tour de France and maybe even Chris Froome, this year´s Tour de France winner, this year´s installment of La Vuelta a España is sure to be one you won´t want to miss.
Gear up for the race by listening to La Vuelta´s anthem for 2015, Amanecer by Edurne, and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the tour´s new mascot Tei Tei the bull, who at first glance expresses all things Spain, and the strength and fearlessness it takes to ride La Vuelta. You may also see some friendly faces from Bike Spain Tours in the crowd! While you watch this grand tour from the comfort of your home this year, check out our website and learn more about our Vuelta VIP Tours – you will certainly want to join us and be up close and personal with La Vuelta 2016!
Assistance from: lavuelta.es, historia.lavuelta.es, cyclingnews.com, cyclingrevealed.com
Photo credit to all respective photographers
Photo Sources: flickr.com (José Luis Parajes), sitiodeciclismo.net, and roadcyclinguk.com