The Vuelta a España is the last Grand Tour of the year, after the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. And we have been preparing for it for weeks. Here are some interesting Vuelta facts to know.

Hot, hotter, hottest

Where the peloton in the Giro has to deal with extreme mountain passes covered in snow, the Vuelta riders probably have to deal with extremely high temperatures. While the hot summer weather seems to be behind us, the chances are it will be sunny every day with temperatures reaching above 35 degrees.

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Long first week

The interesting thing about this year’s Vuelta is it takes a long time before the riders’ first rest day: 9 days! The race starts on Saturday, and the first rest day is on Monday the week after next. That’s a long time, especially when considering the massive challenges in the stages of the first week.

Nine times uphill

Where the mountain stages of Tour de France often take riders zooming down to a finish in the valleys (so that logistics and promoting the finish are made easier), the creators of the Vuelta don’t seem to care. There are no less than nine finishes that are found at the top of a hill or mountain.

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A killer queen stage (on paper)

This year, the Tour already had an impressive stage covering three mountains in very short distance of each other. In the Vuelta, the queen stage, which is the second-to-last stage, riders will face six climbs, four of which are in the first category. The riders have to cover more than 3,000 altitude meters to reach the finish line. And this after three weeks of racing.

What about flat stages?

A large number of sprinters will come to the Vuelta to try to win stages. While in the Tour you have several flat stages during the first week, in the Vuelta you won’t see a flat race until the sixth stage. There are a few stages with a potential sprint finish in the first week, but the sprinters will have to go over some sharp hills and mountains to get there.

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Three week battle for the classification?

In the Tour it took a long time before the leader’s jersey was worn by a general classification (GC) contender. The Vuelta starts this year with a prologue (An individual time trial of usually less than 8 km) and the second stage already finishes on a steep hill. As a result, it is quite possible that the real contenders will already be at the top of the GC, and this will set the scene for three weeks of battling it out.

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The Netherlands strongly represented

Of course, we know that Dutch people like to cheer for a compatriot every now and then. So it’s good to know that many Dutch cyclists are riding in the Vuelta 2018. There is Wilco Kelderman, who will join the top of the rankings for Team Sunweb. In addition, Bauke Mollema will try to rectify his somewhat failed Tour, and Steven Kruijswijk will also be riding again. In short, there are some great cyclists who will bring fireworks to the (mountain) stages, and perhaps even get a good overall ranking.

Photo Courtesy: Cor Vos