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 Salinas de Torrevieja, the pink-hued water lagoons on Costa Blanca, on 24 August, Continental continues its presence as an official sponsor. And six of the 18 World Tour teams will competing on racing tires from the Competition Pro LTD series. Handmade with care and dedication at the Continental factory in Korbach, Germany, these racing tires offer impressively low rolling resistance plus high grip and puncture resistance.
The wheels of the pro riders aren’t the only tires 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 passenger car tires 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 tires is of paramount importance. That's why they rely on Continental tires to ensure safety for both cars and bicycles at the event.
With Continental’s sponsorship of La Vuelta, the goal is to not only showcase our high-performance tires 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 3,272 km in length, the 74th Vuelta a España will feature two time-trials, four hilly stages and nine mountain stages. A high number of summit finishes is a trademark feature of La Vuelta, but this year’s middle section will be especially grueling, with six summit finishes spread over eight stages. After the summits of the Pyrenes and northern Spain, the final lead through Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha 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 NEOS and Movistar Team will be present, 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 Pau (2nd September) and one in Burgos (10th September). The official departure will be from Salinas de Torrevieja where La Vuelta will begin with an 18 km team time-trial. A second, individual time-trial of 36 km will take place in Jurançon in the second week.
Highlight (I): First breakaway?
The 182 km long mountain stage at Mas de la Costa at stage 7 and the extremely challenging 97 km mountain stage at Cortals d’Encamp at stage 9 will be the first highlights in the calendar of the general classification favourites. Especially stage 9 with the climb of Col de la Gallina and a new ascent to Coll d’Engolasters will be one of the crucial stages for deciding the overall classification, with climbing specialists working extremely hard to widen their margin over the time-trial specialists.
Highlight (II): Iconic scenery
On stage 13, La Vuelta will challenge the cyclists with an extremely difficult stage: four 3rd category climbs and two 2nd category climbs which are basically just a warm up exercise for the brutal finale. The HC finale with one of the most picturesque finish lines in cycling will be at the top of Los Machucos or ‘rampas inhumanas’ as the Spanish call it. The 167 km long stage will provide a test to reveal candidates with a real chance of becoming overall winner.
Highlight (III): Terrain for an ambush?
After all the strains of the challenging mountain stages, Stage 20 gives the teams that still have enough energy left one last chance for an ambush on the race leader. The 189 km long stage in the Gredos and Guadarrama mountains with La Vuelta’s mythical mountain passes challenges the cyclists with another 1st category climb of Puerto de Peña Negra with a very winding route before finishing with the sprint on the famous streets of Madrid.