It all starts in Utrecht. A month after the end of the Grande Boucle, the 23 teams at the start of the Tour of Spain 2022 set off from the Dutch city on Friday August 19. Competitors are due to arrive in Madrid on September 11, after completing 21 stages and covering 3,281.4 km.
As often, the last Grand Tour of the year is gaining heights, with no less than eleven mountain stages. The three-time defending champion, Primoz Roglic, is the favorite to wear the red jersey of the winner in the Spanish capital.
One start in the Netherlands and eight summit finishes
The Vuelta is already stronger than the Grande Boucle. The Tour de France started from Copenhagen in Denmark, more than 1,200 km from Paris, beating its record for the furthest start of the borders of the Hexagon. The Vuelta will start at Utrecht, the Netherlands, more than 1,700 km from Madrid.
Like the Tour and the Giro 2022 (starting from Hungary), the Vuelta will take place outside its classic borders for three stages, before landing in Navarre, in the north of the country. For almost three weeks, the roads will rise with eight summit finishes scheduled between the sixth (Pico Jano) and the 18th stage (Alto de Piernal). Finally, several walls very specific to the Vuelta, such as that of Les Praeres (9th stage, 3.9km at 12.4% on average with passages at more than 24%), should ensure the spectacle.
King Roglic wants to keep his crown
At 32, he remains the favorite in his own succession. For three years, no one has managed to dislodge Primoz Roglic from the throne of Spain. After crushing the Vuelta in 2019, the Slovenian was able to make the difference in the last week in the following two editions.
Last year, he responded to Colombian Egan Bernal’s attack during the 17th stage on the Covadonga lakes to then distance his rivals and win, his “biggest number on the Vuelta”he said at the time. A few weeks after giving up on the Tour de France, Roglic intends to remember that he remains “the king” (the king) in Spain.
Thibaut Pinot, the nice surprise
Everyone fell for it. When we did not expect to see him again before the Tour of Lombardy, Groupama-FDJ announced on Tuesday that Thibaut Pinot would be at the start of the Vuelta 2022. Luring his last participation in 2020, the third in the Tour de France 2014 had to give up before the third stage, hit in the back.
The return pic.twitter.com/8RZFReV6SI
— Groupama-FDJ Cycling Team (@GroupamaFDJ) August 15, 2022
Coming out of the Tour de France 2022 frustrated, the Franc-Comtois wants to move forward. Sixth in 2018, the climber has the ideal profile to lift his arms on the steep roads of the Iberian Peninsula. Pinot wants to conquer. “I am very motivated. The ambitions are clear: go for a stage victory. We have a great team, each rider will have his card, it will be interesting”he explains in the press release published by his training.
Alaphilippe, the end of the roller coaster?
We had left Julian Alaphilippe “hit and sunk” by the Covid-19 on the Tour de Wallonie on July 25, two days after winning the first stage of the race. We found him full of spirit on the Tour de l’Ain, at the beginning of August, multiplying the attacks as usual. Deprived of the Tour de France after its fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April, thehe double world champion could finally relaunchopportunity of this Vuelta.
Accompanied by the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, within a Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl which relies heavily on this duo, alaphilippe will want to reproduce the performance achieved during his only participation. In 2017, the Berrichon won the eighth stage to the finish.
Fires and Covid-19 worry
At the heart of a scorching summer in Europe, Spain has already faced three heat waves, while facing nearly 400 fires which have ravaged at least 250,000 hectares this year. Unheard of for more than 20 years, especially in Galicia and Aragon. If the Tour of Spain route does not include these two regions, the riders will pass through Alicante on August 30, where another fire is wreaking havoc.
But the flames are not the only threat to the Vuelta. During the Tour de France, the Covid-19 forced several riders to dismount, such as the Spaniard Enric Mas, the New Zealander George Bennett, or even almost the entire team. AG2R Citroën. The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced in a statement (in English) that the health protocol used during the Grande Boucle would be applied to the Vuelta.