The Tour of Spain, or La Vuelta España, is the last Grand Tour of the cycling season each year. Although some in the cycling community refer to it as the “tour of redemption” it is one of the most exciting races of the year.
It produces attacking racing and the 2018 edition has continued this trend, with a couple of victories for riders in the breakaways and several explosive finishes. It has been a relatively quiet race for world champion, Peter Sagan so far… although you shouldn’t count him out from claiming a victory in the last week as he prepares for the final showdown of the season at the World Championships.
The riders have had to contend with sweltering 40-degree heat and a route that has had a fair number of summit finishes, which tested the sprinters’ climbing legs.
The last three stages – 13, 14 and 15 – have been consecutive mountain-top finishes, which have truly separated the over GC contenders from the rest of the pack. Michal Kwiatkowski spent virtually the entire day off the front of the race during stage 14. We can’t help but wonder if he would have been battling it out for GC honours had it not been for a crash at the end of the first week.
Today is a rest day and the riders will have their feet up, eating and sleeping as much as possible. Riding a Grand Tour requires an extreme level of fitness. If you think you have what it takes, you can contact the Grand Tour Projects crew to give it a go.
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Oh what a day at La Vuelta. Stage 8 has taken us further inland, passing from Andalusia and into the region of La Mancha, famous for its vineyards, olive trees, and of course … windmills! Our man Uri guided our guests the whole 195km to the finish line in Almadèn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We crossed the finish line with the crowds cheering us on, gave a few interviews, stood on the podium, enjoyed an exclusive backstage tour, and savoured very cold drinks in the VIP zone. Thanks @lavuelta for looking after us – you are wonderful hosts!! And congratulations Team for your great cycling today! #vueltaaespaña #vuelta #vuelta2018 #grandtoursproject #rideeverykm #beardyscaravan #spaincycling
If you missed the stage 15 action and the misty finish, watch the highlights from Velon CC. The cat-and-mouse games on the slopes of the Lagos de Covadonga gave Thibaut Pinot the opportunity he needed to break away and claim a stage victory. Although he took back a few seconds on his GC rivals, it wasn’t enough to place him in the leader’s red jersey.
Who will win the 2018 edition of the race? The jury is still out. Some predict that the experience of Alejandro Valverde could be a key factor and that he could claim the title this year. The individual time trial on Tuesday could certainly shake things up as the time gaps among the top GC contenders aren’t that big. One thing is for sure: the result for overall honours is going to come down to the wire! Looking back over the past 10 years, a definite trend is visible. Generally the leader of the race going into the last week of racing has claimed the title. Will Simon Yates be able to produce a strong enough time trial to hold onto the lead?
Vuelta leader before last week/ Vuelta winner
2017 – Froome/Froome
2016 – Quintana/Quintana
2015 – Aru/Aru
2014 – Contador/Contador
2013 – Nibali/Horner
2012 – Rodriguez/Contador
2011 – Cobo/Cobo
2010 – Nibali/Nibali
2009 – Valverde/Valverde
2008 – Contador/Contador
— CafeRoubaix (@CafeRoubaix) September 9, 2018
Be sure to follow the live action from the last week of the race. Stage 16 is an individual TT, which has the potential to shake up the GC due to its length. Following this, there are three more summit finishes, stages 17, 19 and 20, before the peloton rides into Madrid. There is still plenty of racing in store, so stay tuned for the latest updates.