Vuelta a España 2022: Preview, schedule and how to watch the key riders in the grand tour cycling race

As Primoz Roglic goes for a remarkable – an unprecedented – fourth consecutive overall victory, here's everything you need to know about this year's edition of the men's Spanish Grand Tour, which starts on 19 August in Utrecht, Netherlands.

By ZK Goh

The men's road cycling season continues, following the Commonwealth Games and European championships, with the third and last Grand Tour of the 2022 men's season, the 77th Vuelta ciclista a España or Tour of Spain, which runs from 19 August to 11 September 2022.

Primoz Roglic, Slovenia's three-time defending champion of La Vuelta for Team Jumbo-Visma, and Olympic gold medalist is aiming to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive General Classification crown and become only the second man to win the race four times. To do so, he will need to cover the 3,280-kilometre (2,038 mile) route the quickest, in a race that will feature nine finishes at altitude.

This year's La Vuelta '22 begins with a Grand Depart in the Netherlands, postponed from 2020 after pandemic restrictions forced the cancellation of the Dutch start that year, which forced a reduced 18-stage race. This year's race comprises 21 stages, as it did last year.

La Roja – the leader's red jersey – will be contested between 176 riders from 22 teams each formed of eight men. In addition, the green points jersey, blue-and-white polka dot mountain classification jersey, and the white young riders' jersey are all also up for grabs. Additionally, for the opening three stages, the overall leader will wear a special version of the maillot rojo, which pays tribute to the race's Dutch hosts.

The last five days of the race, from 7 through 11 September, will coincide with the women's Challenge by La Vuelta stage race, although the two will have different routes. La Vuelta is the only men's Grand Tour without a women's counterpart; from 2023 the Challenge by La Vuelta race will officially become "La Vuelta Feminina".

Read on to find out what you need to know about this year's La Vuelta 22.

Enric Mas (second), Primoz Roglic (first), and Jack Haig (third) celebrate on the 2021 Vuelta a España podium.
Picture by REUTERS/Miguel Vidal

Vuelta a España 2022 General Classification: favourites to watch

Primoz Roglic: Could he complete the impossible? Never before done, the Slovenian former ski jumper is aiming to become the first man to win La Vuelta four years running. The 32-year-old will lead Jumbo-Visma once more, hoping to bounce back from a disappointing Tour de France which he abandoned after 14 stages. Roglic hasn't raced since then, recovering from a back fracture he suffered during the Tour. Roglic was also the Olympic men's time trial gold medallist at the Tokyo 2020 games in 2021.

Richard Carapaz: The Ecuadorian Olympic road race champion lost the 2020 Vuelta to Roglic by just 24 seconds, and is a Grand Tour winner in his own right having won the 2019 Giro d'Italia for Movistar Team. The Ineos Grenadiers rider, who will likely split leadership duties within his team with the 2020 Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart, will have massive support from Latin American fans around the roads of Spain.

João Almeida: UAE Team Emirates will count on Portuguese youngster Almeida for La Vuelta, with Tadej Pogacar given a rest. Almeida has experience in the big races, leading the 2020 Giro after Stage 3 through Stage 17 before conceding the lead and eventually finishing fourth. The 2021 Tour de Pologne and Tour de Luxembourg winner will look for his first Grand Tour podium here.

Enric Mas: Mas will be a joint-leader of the home team, Movistar Team, alongside the 42-year-old veteran Alejandro Valverde, who has repeatedly pushed his retirement back but is expected to be contesting his final Vuelta. Mas finished runner-up behind Roglic last year and was also second overall in 2018, and it could finally be time for Mas to make the step up.

Colombian contender Nairo Quintana withdrew on the eve of La Vuelta after being retrospectively disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France following a positive test for tramadol.

Other key riders at La Vuelta 2022

Green jersey (points)

Unlike at the Tour de France, La Vuelta does not have a reputation as a sprinter-friendly stage race. Its numerous mountainous stages and high-elevation finishers tend to discourage pure sprinters from completing all 21 stages. Defending champion Fabio Jakobsen was the first pure sprinter to win the green jersey since John Degenkolb did so in 2014; with the exception of all-rounder Fabio Felline in 2016, the points classification was won by general classification favourites from 2015 to 2020.

Two names to look out for – both from the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team – are world champion Julian Alaphilippe, making his major return from a horror crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the all-round star Remco Evenepoel. Both men have the pedigree to ride over hillier terrain and should, with the help of their teammates, be able to make it to the finish.

From Team DSM, Degenkolb is a previous winner of the jersey, having done so in 2014; Valverde, Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) and Roglic are the other previous winners taking part in this year's race.

Polka dot jersey (mountains)

With king of the mountains points awarded differently from race to race, La Vuelta's polka dot jersey winners generally do not overlap with general classification favourites – unlike at the Tour, which has seen the overall winner also claim the mountains classification three years running.

The classification at La Vuelta generally encourages breakaway riders who are also good climbers; Australia's Michael Storer is the defending champion but is not entered this year.

Neither is the 2020 winner Guillaume Martin nor 2019 holder Geoffrey Bouchard. The last blue-white polka dot jersey winner who is in this year's race is Thomas De Gendt.

Vuelta a España 2022 key stages

The 2022 Vuelta a España begins in the Netherlands with a team time trial around Utrecht. Team time trials have traditionally been used to start La Vuelta in recent years, and the 2022 edition is no exception.

After two further flat stages reminiscent of some northern Classics, the race returns to Spanish soil and resumes in the Basque Country with the first of 10 stages with uphill finishes.

The race's time in the Basque Country includes a first visit to Pico Jano, which crowns Stage 6; two further mountain-top finishes come at the end of the first week in Asturias on Colláu Fancuaya and Les Praeres.

Individual time-triallists will get their day in the sun, quite literally, along the coast on Stage 10 from Elche to Alicante, before three more mountaintop finishes in the span of four stages, including the race's highest point, Sierra Nevada (2508m altitude) on Stage 15.

The final week sees the procession of high mountains, a hallmark of the Vuelta, continue – the monastery at Tentudía (stage 17) and Alto del Piornal (stage 18) have both never been visited by La Vuelta before. Stage 19 sees the peloton complete two laps of a circuit around the Puerto del Pelago, a tricky 9km climb at 5.9%, before the final racing stage will make those who have survived the previous 19 days of racing go over no fewer than five categorised climbs.

After last year's detour which saw the race end in Santiago de Compostela to celebrate the historic Way of St James, this year La Vuelta 22 returns to the Spanish capital Madrid for the last stage, a celebratory procession of the race and its winner similar to the Champs-Élysées stage of the Tour de France.

Full route of 2022 Vuelta a España

  • Stage 1: 19 August, Utrecht to Utrecht (team time trial, 23.3km)
  • Stage 2: 20 August, 's-Hertogenbosch to Utrecht (175.1km)
  • Stage 3: 21 August, Breda to Breda (193.5km)
  • Rest Day 1: 22 August (transfer day)
  • Stage 4: 23 August, Vitoria-Gasteiz to Laguardia (152.5km)
  • Stage 5: 24 August, Irun to Bilbao (187.2km)
  • Stage 6: 25 August, Bilbao to Ascensión al Pico Jano, San Miguel de Aguayo (181.2km)
  • Stage 7: 26 August, Camargo to Cistierna (190km)
  • Stage 8: 27 August, La Pola Llaviana/Pola de Laviana to Colláu Fancuaya, Yernes y Tameza (153.4km)
  • Stage 9: 28 August, Villaviciosa to Les Praeres, Nava (171.4km)
  • Rest Day 2: 29 August
  • Stage 10: 30 August, Elche to Alicante (time trial, 30.9km)
  • Stage 11: 31 August, ElPozo Alimentación, Alhama de Murcia to Cabo de Gata (191.2km)
  • Stage 12: 1 September, Salobreña to Peñas Blancas, Estepona (192.7km)
  • Stage 13: 2 September, Ronda to Montilla (168.4km)
  • Stage 14: 3 September, Montoro to Sierra de la Pandera (160.3km)
  • Stage 15: 4 September, Martos to Sierra Nevada, Alto Hoya de la Mora, Monachil (152.6km)
  • Rest Day 3: 5 September
  • Stage 16: 6 September, Sanlúcar de Barrameda to Tomares (189.4km)
  • Stage 17: 7 September, Aracena to Monasterio de Tentudía (162.3km)
  • Stage 18: 8 September, Trujillo to Alto de Piornal (192km)
  • Stage 19: 9 September, Talavera de la Reina to Talavera de la Reina (138.3km)
  • Stage 20: 10 September, Moralzarzal to Puerto de Navacerrada (181km)
  • Stage 21, 11 September, Las Rozas to Madrid, Paisaje de la Luz (96.7km)

How to watch the 2022 Vuelta a España

Here is a list of live television broadcasters around the world, many of which also offer digital livestream coverage too.

Europe

  • Belgium: VRT
  • Denmark: TV2
  • Europe-wide: Eurosport
  • Spain: RTVE

Americas

  • Brazil: ESPN
  • Canada: FloBikes
  • Colombia: Caracol
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: ESPN
  • United States: NBC Sports

Asia-Pacific

  • Australia: SBS
  • China: Zhibo TV
  • Japan: J Sports
  • New Zealand: Sky Sport
  • South-East Asia: Eurosport

Middle East and Africa

  • Middle East and North Africa: BeIN Sports
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Supersport

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