On 29 April 1935 50 riders left Madrid to travel 3 425 kilometres over 14 stages in what became the first Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain). The last of the grand tours for the season, 2014 marks the 69th edition of the race. The Vuelta generally incorporates 3 time trials and numerous mountain stages; 13 of them in the 2014 edition.
Roberto Herras holds the record for the most wins (5), while Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali have won all three grand tours. Tony Rominger won the race three times, consecutively from 1992 to 1994 and in 1995 Laurent Jalabert became the first, and only, rider to win all of the classifications. In recent years the race has been won by Chris Horner (2013), Alberto Contador (2012) Juan Jose Cobo (2011) and Vincenzo Nibali (2010).
Red Jersey – just as the Giro d’Italia has its Maglia Rosa and the Tour de France its Malliot Jaune, this is the jersey awarded to the rider who leads the General Classification (it has been yellow, orange and white; red was introduced in 2010)
Green Jersey– awarded to the rider who leads the Points Classification. Laurent Jalabert and Sean Kelly share the record for victories in this competition with 4 each.
Polka Dot Jersey as per the Tour de France Polka Dot jersey this one is for the leader of the King of the Mountains Classification, although in Spain the polka dots are blue
White Jersey – is for the leader of the Combined Classification, basically it’s the consistency prize
2014 Stage Highlights
Stage 1 is the only Team Time-Trial for the Vuelta and is a snappy, but technical 12.6 km route through Cadiz.
Stage 3 is noteworthy because it leaves from a ship of the Spanish Armada, if you can believe it…
Stage 6 provides the first big challenge of the Tour with the 5km climb to Cumbres Verdes.
Stage 14 is one of the harder ones with the final 3 kilometres featuring climbs of up to 24%
Stage 20 provides the last Mountain showdown before the final stage – 2 Cat 3, 1 Cat 2, 1 Cat 1 and 1 Hors Category climbs; this one could be decisive
Stage 21 is the final stage of the tour and will see the tired riders complete a 10 km individual time trial in the arrival city of Santiago de Compostela
Nairo Quintana may have thought he had this one in the bag, but with so many of the big names withdrawing from the Tour de France the battle for Vuelta victory will be hard-fought. Contador and Froome have both signalled their intention of riding the Vuelta and with other big names such as Bradley Wiggins set to contest it, there are more late nights ahead for cycling fans.