Starting in Utrecht, the Netherlands (a start planned for 2020, before being cancelled because of the pandemic), before heading to the Basque Country, to Cantabria and to Asturias, then transferring south to Alicante, through the south of the country and then north to Madrid – the race makes its return to Spain’s capital following an absence last year and a final stage time trial in Santiago de Compostela.
Running from 19th August to 11th September (with the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta – the associated women’s race – also being expanded to five stages, 7th – 11th September), next year’s Vuelta is being promoted, as ever, as ‘one for the climbers’. With seven stages directly labelled as ‘mountain stages’ (although nine days have summit finishes), there are also several hilly stages in the mix and two time trials – a TTT for the first stage in Utrecht and an ITT on Stage 10 in Alicante (both flat, the ITT one which should suit the specialists). No Stage 20 (or 21) time trial for this Grand Tour, however, perhaps returning to a more traditional route which was only disrupted by the pandemic, or because organisers cannot hope for a repeat of that La Planche des Belles Filles day forever.
Stage by Stage:
Stage 1 (19/08/2022): Utrecht – Utrecht, Team Time Trial, 23.2km
Stage 2 (20/08/2022) ‘s Hertogenbosch – Utrecht, Flat, 175.1km
Stage 3 (21/08/2022): Breda – Breda, Flat, 193.2km
- TTTs, not being a common feature of a Grand Tour, always throw up a few surprises, but usually not too much drama. Stage 1 is therefore likely to set up the GC for the first few days, with stages 2 and 3 being flat, but it’ll probably all change after stage 4, when the road begins to climb.
22/08/2022: rest day
Stage 4 (23/08/2022): Vitoria-Gasteiz – Laguardia, Medium Mountains (Hilly), 153.5km
Stage 5 (24/08/2022): Irún – Bilbao, Hilly, 187km
Stage 6 (25/08/2022) Bilbao – Ascensión al Pico Jano. San Miguel de Aguayo, Mountains, 180km
- Three stages in the Basque Country, with the quickly changeable weather and hardly a kilometre of flat road, ending with the first mountain summit finish at Pico Jano (in Cantabria), are likely to show who the favourites are going to be in this edition of the race.
Stage 7 (26/08/2022) Camargo – Cistierna, Hilly, 190.1km
Stage 8 (27/08/2022): La Pola Llaviana/Pola de Laviana > Colláu Fancuaya, Mountains, 154.5km
Stage 9 (28/08/2022): Villaviciosa > Les Praeres. Nava, Mountains, 175.5km
- The Asturian hills (and mountains) are the next challenge to be faced by the Vuelta, including the first climb of Colláu Fancuaya making the finish of stage 8 perhaps even more dramatic. We’ll have to wait and see.
29/08/2022: Rest Day
Stage 10 (30/08/2022): Elche – Alicante, Individual Time Trial, 31.1km
- The ITT in Alicante is the only time this discipline makes an appearance in this year’s Vuelta and, with a flat course designed to favour the specialists, some impact on the GC is guaranteed but its extent is unknowable, that all depends on who is going well at that point in the race.
Stage 11 (31/08/2022): ElPozo Alimentación – Cabo de Gata, Flat, 193km
Stage 12 (01/09/2022): Salobreña – Peñas Blancas. Estepona, Hilly, 195.5km
Stage 13 (02/09/2022): Ronda – Montilla, Flat, 171km
Stage 14 (03/09/2022): Montoro – Sierra de la Pandera, Mountains, 160.3km
Stage 15 (04/09/2022): Martos – Sierra Nevada, Mountains, 148.1km
- These mountainous Andalusian stages with summit finishes and climbs heading high above 2000m along with a pair of flat stages make up the rest of the second week.
05/09/2022: Rest Day
Stage 16 (06/09/2022): Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Tomares, Flat, 188.9km
Stage 17 (07/09/2022): Aracena – Monasterio de Tentudía, Flat, 160km
Stage 18 (08/09/2022): Trujillo – Alto del Piornal, Mountains, 191.7km
Stage 19 (09/09/2022): Talavera de la Reina – Talavera de la Reina, Hilly, 132.7km
Stage 20 (10/09/2022): Moralzarzal – Puerto de Navacerrada, Mountains, 175.5km
- These final mountain stages are where, even if it looks pretty final, the GC will be decided. These could be where the race is won (although that would probably take something dramatic, think Froome in the 2018 Giro), but the race could very easily be lost here (it happened to Dumoulin in 2015, when Aru finally took red).
Stage 21 (11/09/2022): Las Rozas – Madrid, Flat, 100.5km
- The final stage is one for the remaining sprinters, and then the winner is crowned and the race is over until next year.
Note: I’ve never written a route announcement reaction before, but I always think it through. I’ll definitely write more stuff like this though, because I really enjoyed doing it. Up next, if I remember (fingers crossed), an end of year reading wrap-up, and there probably won’t be any mention of bikes, unless you count Guillaume Martin’s Socrate à vélo, which was one of the best books I read this year.