La Vuelta a España 2022
Held in Spain, La Vuelta is the third and final Grand Tour, and this year is no different. The 77th edition of the Spanish Tour kicks off on 19 August in Utrecht, right in the heart of the Netherlands. By hosting the start of the Vuelta, Utrecht will be the first and only city to kick-start all of the Grand Tours (Giro, Tour de France, Vuelta). The 160 or so cyclists in the peloton have to conquer a total of 3,280 km spread over 21 stages and three rest days.
BORA – hansgrohe / sprintcycling
The race will open in Utrecht with a 23-km team time-trial. The next two stages around the city will be reserved for the sprinters, as the first stages in Spain certainly won’t offer them any more sprinting opportunities. There won’t be a single flat stage until the second rest day, only hilly and mountainous terrain from the Basque Country to Asturias. Four of the six stages will be uphill, and the stage before the rest day will be a real highlight for spectators. It involves a mountain finish with an ascent stretching over 4 km, an average gradient of 14% and slopes of up to 24%. Even without stages in the Pyrenees this year, La Vuelta lives up to its reputation as arguably the most mountainous Grand Tour. After the second rest day, a key stage for the overall classification lies ahead for the riders: a 31-km time trial in south-eastern Spain, from Elche to Alicante. The completely flat route will run along the coastline, where the sea breeze could make life difficult for the lightweight climbers. The race will continue with two flat stages, interrupted by an extremely demanding mountain finish, with a 20-km ascent to ‘Peñas Blancas’. Over the following two days, the route will make its way into the high mountains, to the heights of the Sierra Nevada. After a 20-km climb, riders will reach the highest point with a summit finish at 2,500 meters. On the next day, the cyclists can enjoy a well-earned rest day, before the race kicks off again with two days for the sprinters. This will please many riders, but mustn’t be underestimated. The heat and side wind could soon put an abrupt end to these ‘quieter’ days. The last three stages allow scope for changes in the overall classification with a mountain finish and one stage featuring 4,000 meters of climbing over 175 km. The final stage is the traditional processional race through the streets of Madrid. Just as with the Tour de France in Paris, the race leader up to this point can no longer come under attack. After all, if riders don’t make it before Madrid, it’s too late by this stage.
The history of the Vuelta began 77 years ago and is dominated by a passion for cycling and Spanish culture. Inspired by the great successes of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, Juan Pujol, owner of a Spanish newspaper, inaugurated the Vuelta in 1935. That year, 50 cyclists took on the 3,425 km route in just 14 days for the first time. Ten stages were in excess of 250 km, which seemed almost impossible if you look at historical bikes from the time. Save from a few interruptions, the Vuelta has been held annually since 1955. To establish itself alongside the other two major tours and make the race varied and interesting, new ideas have been repeatedly tried out. The aim was to live up to the reputation of a ‘Grand Tour’. Traditionally, the profile has always been rather undulating and particularly ideal for accomplished climbers. In 1995, the international cycling association UCI changed the cycling calendar and moved the Spanish Tour from April to August.
Unlike at the Tour de France, the special jerseys have changed colour from time to time. Currently, the overall leader wears the red ‘Maillot Rojo’, the leader of the points classification the green ‘Maillot Verde’ and the best climber the blue polka dot ‘Maillot Lunares’.
The BORA - hansgrohe line up
Thirty professional cyclists from 14 different countries in one team. After all: teamwork makes the dream work in cycling. Even though only one of them can be the first over the finish line, winning is a success for the whole team because you can’t win in cycling without domestiques who provide slipstreams, grab water bottles, keep the competition at bay and lead out the sprinters in the sprint.
Teamwork is a top priority in the BORA – hansgrohe team; it’s how the team has constantly developed, improved and become more successful. The team started in the third division in 2010, still under the NetApp team name, and was evolving and getting better all the time until it was promoted to the first division in 2017. Just two years later and with a total of 47 victories under its belt, the team advanced to the second-best team in the WorldTour division. The idea that the team will rest on their laurels is unthinkable; they have lots of plans for the future. The squad was reshuffled, with 11 new riders joining, giving the team an even more international profile. The team is evolving to focus its skills more on stage races and consequently on general classification specialists. BORA – hansgrohe will once again field a strong team in the Classics, one-day races and sprint stages.
This year, 23 teams with 8 riders each will start at the Vuelta. There are sprinting specialists, strong climbers and great all-rounders. Sergio Higuita and Jai Hindley will be on the start line for the overall classification, supported by strong climbers such as Matteo Fabbro and Wilco Kelderman. For the sprints, we are counting on Sam Bennett and Danny van Poppel. Our line-up also features Ryan Mullen and Jonas Koch, who have all proven their Grand Tour suitability, are totally committed to serving the team and have some top surprises up their sleeves.
This Irishman started his professional career with the team in 2014, and after two years away, he’s back at BORA – hansgrohe in 2022. Now he’s the team’s go-to rider for fast sprint finishes. But this good-humoured gentleman has much more to offer than just his lightning-fast legs. He also has a penchant for high speeds in his private life, but he likes to shift down a gear when listening to hip-hop and RnB or when enjoying the delights of Italian cuisine. He already scooped three stage wins at the Vuelta 2019 and 2020, but these shouldn’t be his last!
The 27-year-old joined the ‘Band of Brothers’, as the BORA – hansgrohe team likes to call itself, in 2020. The Italian cyclist describes himself as a small person with a strong character and a passion for the mountains. Matteo is a big fan of Italian music and loves basketball, even though he doesn’t have a basketball stature. He even has his own fan club full of passionate tifosi.
The 2019 Tour of Spain was Sergio’s first Grand Tour. Despite this, he immediately claimed a stage win during a very difficult last week, therefore this Tour is also very important for the ‘monster’ from Medellín. The season has been almost perfect so far. He has won all of his major races as well as an overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya. Sergio will now make a hard-to-beat duo with the Giro winner Jai Hindley. He is certainly in top shape and excited about the mountainous race that is likely to play into his hands.
Jai Hindley joined the team in the 2022 season. Right from the off the Australian proved his mettle, showing his impressive skills as a tour cycling captain and as a pacemaker for his teammates on mountain climbs in his first races. To say that he ‘shone’ in May 2022 is an absolute understatement. As leader of a fast and furious team, the hip-hop fan started by winning a difficult mountain stage before topping the general classification at the Giro d’Italia. This marked the first Grand Tour win for BORA – hansgrohe! At the Vuelta he is heading for the start line as joint leader with Sergio Higuita, and we can’t wait to see whether this lover of Italian cuisine will simply sparkle at this Tour or if he’ll outshine everyone again.
The 31-year-old Dutchman joined the team in the 2021 season with a clear focus on the major national tours. A strong time trialist, who also gets on very well in the mountains, has shown his promise with top 10 places in the Vuelta and Giro, occupying third place on the podium in the latter in 2020. He continued to demonstrate his top skills and expertise as a tour cyclist in 2021 by clinching fifth place at the Tour de France. In May 2022, Wilco was a vital puzzle piece for Jai Hindley’s Giro win by selflessly helping out his team mate, and he’ll do so again at the Vuelta. Having said that, a rider like Wilco is also always a GC option.
Ryan Mullen, whose biggest strength lies in his time trial ability, joined the Band of Brothers in 2022 as a ‘bodyguard’ for his teammates. He stands out in the peleton not least for his athletic build, which he also put to good use as a rugbyman before becoming a cyclist. The three-times Irish road race champion (and five-times winner of the time trial discipline), who was born in the UK, is a big fan of the Tour of Britain, the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. In culinary terms, this good-humoured Irishman who currently lives in Andorra and Spain, enjoys eating steak as well as spicy Indian cuisine.
Danny van Poppel
As designated lead-out man for Sam Bennett in 2022, this Dutchman whose parents were also professional cyclists and who competes in the WorldTour just like his brother and cousin, is picking up exactly where he left off in 2021. Whether leading out a sprint or carrying out one of his own, Danny has secured countless top-ten positions in sprints and classic races. This will be the third Vuelta for this Australophile who constantly takes on new challenges, including in the kitchen, and he already secured a stage win at the race in 2015.
Jonas used to watch the Tour de France with his grandma when he was little. Then 2020 was the year his dream came true – he competed in La Grande Boucle. The 29-year-old rider from Baden-Württemberg is now a seasoned pro. His skills are impressive, especially as a reliable domestique and when it comes to the spring Classics. In winter he swaps training on his bike for cross-country skiing. Just a post-workout sauna and some stretches, and it’s a perfect day! Jonas is set to be a valuable domestique beyond the mountain stages at the Vuelta as the captains will need every little support to conserve energy.
Watch our video to find out how our boys have prepped themselves for the Giro with food: