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2022 Vuelta a España Route Revealed
La Vuelta is back, and with a vengeance. While outsiders may claim it's a third wheel to the Giro and Tour, it proves year after year that is just as thrilling and prestigious. Riders are in for three weeks of hot weather, punchy finishes, and fantastic Spanish views.

Last year it was legendary stage racer Rein Taaramäe who won his second Vuelta at the age of 34. He stole the spotlight from hometown favorites Tenorio and Madrazo, who had to settle for the lower spots on the podium. While all three should remain competitive if they decide to return, the veterans have each declined over the past year. It is possible we will see an entirely new podium this time around!

As usual, the route is full of climbs, ranging from the tall peaks of the Pyrenees to smaller hills built for the puncheurs. The race will have just one flat TT of around 30 km that ends in a short climbs, so we can expect it will predominantly be a climber's race.

Week 1


We begin the race in Garray near the ruins of the ancient Celtic settlement of Numantia. The riders take off east towards Ejea de los Caballeros. It's pretty much flat, and a sprinter should be primed to take the first red jersey.

Whoever wins that jersey should have the chance to keep it for a few days. Stage 2 has some small bumps, but it should be another sprinter's day as the riders head from Castrillo del Val to Aguilar de Campoo.

Stage 3 sees us transfer to Valencia on the eastern coast for another sprint stage. Notably, as we ride north to El Puig, we do get our first categorized mountain of the race. It's not one that should impact the standings later on, but it gives us the first chance to see a KOM jersey earned.

Stage 4 sees us leap across the country to Mos in the northwest for one final flat affair. On an interesting note, the Portuguese fans will get a chance to see their favorite riders at the finish in Porto Matosinhos. The profile has some very small climbs along the way that an attacker might find appealing, but we shouldn't expect any fireworks yet.

Things get interesting on stage 5 as we enter the outskirts of the Pyrenees and see our first real climbs. It will be interesting to see how the stage is raced because the profile projects as the sort of medium mountain stage that might go to a breakaway towards the end of a GT. At the beginning, however, with nothing separating the favorites, all bets are off. We could see GC fireworks, or a strong sprinter could outlast the others as they save their legs.

Unlike last year, when riders had to wait until the second week for big GC battles, our first mountain top finish arrives on stage 6 this year. It's a gentle slope upwards through the first half of the day before a long plateau. Then, the leaders will fight their way to the top of. The final climb to the resort isn't crazy difficult at only 5.7%, but it's steepest at the top. We should see some gaps.

The first week then ends with a monster stage 7 as the riders conquer the heights of the Pyrenees. They start in the border town of Biescas before venturing across into France. Two HC climbs lie in the front the riders in quick succession before they see the biggest challenge - the Col du Tourmalet. The Tourmalet needs no introduction and will obviously be a difference maker. At just 137 km, the stage is difficult but short. With the riders still feeling energized, it should be perfect for fast paced action.

Week 2


After a dramatic finish to week 1, week 2 offers some more customary Vuelta type stages. Lots of short climbs on the route with steep uphill finishes. The bigger mountains certainly aren't gone, but they won't be the centerpiece again until week 3.

Stage 8 is a flat one to give the legs a rest. Back down the east coast, a little up and down, but looks like a sprint.

Then we're back north for a trip into the Basque Country. We start in Irun and have a long flat run up for the first half of the race before the gradients start going a bit up and down. Three third category climbs before the finish at the top of the Alto de Arrate - only 5 km long, but at 8.5%. Climbers will run the show, but a strong puncheur has a chance, especially since it flattens out just before the finish.

It's a similar story on Stage 10 down in the Iberian System. Shorter climbs and probably not the terrain for huge gaps, but not somewhere you wanna have a bad day either. It's a bit bumpier than stage 9, but the final climb to Ares del Maestrat is also easier, which should balance out.

The peloton picks up the next day in nearby Onda for yet another day of shorter climbs. Flat lead up again, then four categorized climbs before the climb up to Mas de la Costa. This last one is a doozy and a classic Vuelta finish. 12.1% for 4 km. Those who long for steep hills and classics should like the finish, if they can last that long.

Stage 12 finally gives us a flat finish in Catalunya. A single categorized climb, but the favorites will really depend on how eager the sprinter's teams are to grab a stage before the hellish final week. Otherwise, could be a breakaway day.

The time trialists get their only chance of the race on stage 13. Back in the northwest of Spain, where we ventured briefly in the first week, it's a largely flat stage. 32.5 km, the first 30 of which are pretty much completely flat. Then there's a 2 km climb at 14.2% to Dumbria. In an interesting twist, this would be a classic Vuelta road stage profile if you extended the flat part out another 100 km. As is, it should be one for the TT specialists, but it probably isn't long enough for a GC contender to win the race there.

Stage 14, from Lugo to Ourense, finishes out the second week. It looks to be a classic breakaway transition day. Too bumpy for the sprinters, but not difficult enough to bother GC contenders at this point in the race. The fighters will have their chance to shine.

Week 3


From afar, stage 15 may look "flat," and in reference to the rest of week 3, it kind of is. Nevertheless, it is certainly bumpy, including a short, speedy climb up to Suances at the finish. 1.5 km, not too steep. Puncheurs and strong sprinters should love it on paper, but it could also be another day for the breakaway.

Stage 16 then starts a hellish stretch of racing. An uphill start before a flat lead up to the 1st category Alto de la Cobertoira. A short descent before the Alto de Cordal. Then, finally, the insanity of the 12 km, 10.2% Alto de Angliru. The bottom third of the Angliru always brings down that gradient average too - the entire rest of the climb is a "black zone." This is a climb where leaders can watch their entire race slip away in a few minutes. On the other hand, the hero who conquers it is set up for GC success.

A similar challenge on Stage 17 as the riders continue through Asturias the next day. Launching from Pravia, the rider traverse the Puerto de San Lorenzo and the Alto de la Coberteria, both 1st category treks. Then it's a ride through the valley before the finish atop the Alto de la Cubilla. Not the steepest climb, but over 18 km long. With the Angliru the day before, this could be one where all the excitement happens as tired leaders finally crack, or the leaders mark each other and let the break go.

Stage 18 brings the first and only high mountain stage of the race without a mountain top finish. Don't be fooled though, it has a genuine claim as the king stage of the race. The riders start in Colmenar Viejo in the suburbs of Madrid before taking on a route with 4(!) 1st category climbs in their way. While none of the climbs are particularly steep - the steep is Puerto de a Morcuera at 6.7% - all of them are over 10 km long and offer plenty of chances for a long range heist. The riders then take on a final descent, but more gaps may still emerge afterward. The 3 km false flat into Becerril de la Sierra would be inconsequential on most days, but after the onslaught of the last few days, it could be a difference maker.

Stage 19 offers the second and last ITT of the race, but it won't be one for the time trialists. The climbers get a shot to show their strength free of any other tactics or influences as they take on the Puerto de Navacerrada against the clock. 14.7 km with steady, steep pitches. Will it be a show of ability or freshness?

Unfortunately for the contenders, they will finish their ITT with still one massive challenge to go on stage 20. The riders depart from the province of Avila with 6 categorized climbs in store. Almost the entire stage is bumpy as well, with numerous uncategorized peaks, short descents, and undulating plateaus. Our final 1st category of the race, the Puerto de la Pena Negra, peaks with about 35 km to go. Then it's a descent and a few more bumps before the short Plataforma de Gredos to the finish line. We should expect the race to be long broken up by then, however.

Stage 21 finally calls for relaxation. Those who have made have made it. Their reward is a the ceremonial flat approach to Madrid. Whatever sprinters remain in the race will have their best chance for a stage win since maybe stage 8, so they will certainly be the hungry. More importantly, however, they will all be proud to have finished an epic, grueling three weeks.

6x High Mountain (5x MTF)
3x Medium Mountain (3x MTF)
4x Hilly (2x MTF)
6x Flat
2x ITT (1x Flat, 1x MTT)
Luis Leon Sanchez
Definitely enough in there for me to consider our participation this year Wink
Very interesting route. Always love to see the Angliru in the final week like this! Hope it’s a strong startlist for this one.
Indosat - ANZ HQ

"This Schleck sandwich is going to cause serious indigestion for Evans" - Phil Liggett
Thank you for the in-depth write-up, bbl!

Those mountain stages in the final week look scary. At least nice to know it will take an absolute world class climber with brilliant energy stats to compete for the overall victory here. Will be fun and very interesting to see where the best stage racers in the game line up, thinking of the Grand Tours.
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