Alongside Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España is one of the most important cycling events in the world. This fascinating competition is overflowing with heroic feats and high-stakes drama. Moreover, as the final grand tour on the professional calendar, there’s another critical aspect to the event; it represents the last great opportunity for an ambitious cyclist to make an impact on the world stage – or bounce back from a disappointing season.
However, whether a participant is a promising young talent or a seasoned professional (who’d like to settle old scores), that doesn’t mean the organizers of La Vuelta are going to make it easy for them. Unpredictability and a willingness to experiment characterize the event. Recent years have seen shorter stages, steep climbs, and unpredictable terrain as the peloton approaches the finish line. In short, anything can happen.
As the competitors line up for the first stage of La Vuelta at Malaga on the Costa del Sol on 25 August, Continental begins its first year as an official sponsor. And seven of the 22 World Tour teams will compete using racing tyres from the Competition Pro LTD series. Handmade with care and dedication at the Continental factory in Korbach, Germany, these racing tyres offer impressively low rolling resistance plus high grip and puncture resistance.
The wheels of the pro riders aren’t the only tyres emblazoned with the yellow Continental logo. The official La Vuelta vehicles for the race director, medical staff, timekeeper, and service are also equipped with special-edition motorbike and passenger car tyres from Continental, like the PremiumContact 6. The drivers of the official vehicles at La Vuelta have a highly demanding job, and the braking ability of their tyres is of paramount importance. That's why they rely on Continental tyres to ensure safety for both cars and bicycles at the event.
With Continental’s sponsorship of La Vuelta, the goal is not just to showcase our high-performance tyres but also to focus attention on our Vision Zero initiative – a world without road fatalities and accidents. In this context, the race is an ideal opportunity to promote greater mutual respect between vehicle drivers and cyclists so they can share the road safely. Campaigns to “stay wider of the rider” with a distance of 1.5-meters are already gaining traction in Spain, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.
At 3,271 km in length, the 73rd Vuelta a España will feature nine summit finishes and a pair of time trials. A high number of summit finishes is a trademark feature of La Vuelta, but this year’s second half will be especially gruelling, with six summit finishes spread over eight stages. Andorra is where the last mountain stages of the race will take place, leading into the final road stage in Madrid.
22 professional racing teams from all over the world will compete in La Vuelta. Each team will have only eight riders, bringing the total number of professional cyclists to 176. Official UCI WorldTeams like Team Sky and Movistar Team will be present and correct, but there will also be four wildcard teams to add a bit of spice to proceedings.
La Vuelta consists of 21 stages, plus two days of rest; one in Salamanca (3rd September) and one in Santander (10th September). The official departure will be from Málaga where, for the first time since 2009, La Vuelta will begin with an individual 8 km time trial. A second, longer time-trial of 32 km will take place in Torrelavega in the third week.
Highlight (I): First breakaway?
La Covatilla at stage 9 will be one of the first highlights in the calendar of the general classification favourites. It’s a long mountain stage of 195 km, just before a rest day, where climbing specialists will work extremely hard to widen their margin over the time-trial specialists.
Highlight (II): Iconic scenery
On stage 15, La Vuelta returns once again to the legendary Lagos de Covadonga summit finish, tackled for the 20th time since 1983. With a 4,000 meter climb over 185 km, this stage has one of the most picturesque finish lines in cycling. Before they get there, however, riders must first scale the Mirador del Fito twice over.
Highlight (III): Uncharted terrain
Next, the peloton moves into uncharted territory. Stage 17 is an ascent to Mount Oiz, an unprecedented and potentially problematic climb. The riders must contend with a series of punishing slopes over 3,000 meters of inclination before they reach the finish line.
Highlight (IV): Toughest in history?
Stage 20 of La Vuelta is perhaps the toughest in the history of the race. With a short course of 105 km, riders must endure six massive climbs and a summit finish on Andorra’s steepest ascent, the Col de la Gallina. It amounts to 4,000 meters of vertical climbing and, with riders close to exhaustion in the final stretch, there will be major surprises in store.