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la vuelta a españa, 2011

a climber’s race

Spain zone

La Vuelta - race map

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La Vuelta a Spana

official website of La Vuelta
(English version)

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cycling tactics

the cycling zone

la Vuelta a España, 2014 - climbs to glory

la Vuelta a España, 2013 - race to the summits


watching the Tour
Le Tour 2: preparing to watch the Tour
Le Tour 3: the Great Day arrives
Le Tour 4: preparing to watch a mountain stage


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Tour de France route 2017
the tour de france 2018 - celebrating france, celebrating the tdfillustrated graph

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the 2018 Giro d’Italia

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La Vuelta a Espana

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Barcelona and St George

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antoni gaudí: architecture in barcelona photo

sagrada família, the architecture of antoni gaudí photo

the spanish vuelta
this year’s race
the race map
the stages
la vuelta race teams
new year, new jerseys
a select dictionary


The third of the trio of major Tour-type cycle races starts on 20 August 2011, at Benidorm.


News update

Final results
British cyclists take second and third places.

  1. ESP COBO, J. GEO 84:59:31
  2. GBR FROOME, C. SKY at 13
  3. GBR WIGGINS, B. SKY at 1:39
  4. NED MOLLEMA, B. RAB at 2:03
  5. RUS MENCHOV, D. GEO at 3:48
  6. BEL MONFORT, M. LEO at 4:13
  7. ITA NIBALI, V. LIQ at 4:31
  8. BEL VAN DEN BROECK, J. OLO at 4:45
  9. ESP MORENO, D. KAT at 5:20

For more result details, go to the official web site.

This year is going to be a climber’s race, so the stages are strangely discontinuous in order to include lots of mountain cycling. There will be six mountain top finishes, at

  • Sierra Nevada, stage 4 - 2,126 m
  • San Lorenzo de El Escorial, stage 8 - 1,115 m
  • Sierra de Bejar. La Covatilla, stage 9 - 1,970 m
  • Alto de la Manzaneda, stage 11 - 1,760 m
  • La Farrapona, stage 14 - 1,708 m. La Farrapona climbs for 18.7 km at 5.7% average gradient, with 12% ramps.
  • l’Anglirú, stage 15 - 1,560 m. L’Angliru is 12.6 km long, and has an average gradient of over 10 %, with the maximum being 23 % near the summit.

Other fierce slopes include Puerto de Ancares on the 13th stage, reaching 1110 m in merely12 km, with gradients averaging 12.5% and a maximum at 20%! And note that on this stage’s route listing, after going over the Puerto de Ancares pass, the entry reads, “Descenso rapido con curvas. Precaución ” - Rapid decent with with bends. Careful.

Of course, this climber’s race is especially suited to Spanish riders, such as Alberto Contador [ed.: not participating after all], Ezequiel Mosquera and Samuel Sanchez, who specialise in the hard, uphill grinds.

For the first time since 1978, the race will pass through some of the Basque Country, on Spain’s northern coast, including a stage finish and a stage start at Bilbao. The last foray to this region was a disaster with two stages being cancelled. Basque separatists barricaded and blocked the route, including scattering drawing pins on the road. The protesters also threw sand into the eyes of riders.

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Watching the Vuelta in Spain is very similar to watching the Tour in France. has several pages giving general advice on how to be a effective road-side spectator.

In the hot southern countryside, there are long stretches empty of anything except lovely semi-desert landscape. Occasionally, there maybe one person sheltering from the belting sun under a tree, even on climbs where in France the way would be seething with fêting followers. The crowding is often far less oppressive, or exciting according to your taste.

watching on tv

Watch the Vuelta on Eurosport UK [schedule] and on ITV4 [schedule]. Both these UK-based channels are providing about three hours broadcast every afternoon when there is racing.

google earth

  1. Download the .kmz file from here. [Courtesy of]
  2. Open this file in Google Earth.
  3. Copy from Temporary Places to My Places [right click for menu, and choose Copy to My Places]
  4. Paths shows the stages.
    Double click on a stage for enlargement showing names etc.
    Double click on a Stage in Rides folder for helicopter ride of route. Click on double arrow >> to increase speed of flight.

using the official vuelta web site

  • Use the dropdown menu to go to current day’s details
    Dropdown menu

  • For route information
    To navigate, use grey tabs a bit down the page:
    Grey navigation tabs

  • For wider information, use the black tabs at the top of the page:
    Black navigation tabs

  • To look at the overall standings while a stage is taking place, click on the STANDINGS tab, then use the dropdown to go to the previous stage’s standings:
    Overall standings tab

  • While the current stage is taking place, there is an animation, updated every sixty seconds, in a separate smaller browser widow. It shows both breakaway and peleton dispositions, as well as where the day’s race has reached on the stage’s profile. At the bottom of the window are regularly updated, blog-type reports. This service is available during all of the day’s stage, including prior to the TV broadcasts, which tend to start about half way through the day’s stage.

    Clicking on a rider’s name will open a small note on the rider’s overall position, and a few other details.
    dynamic animation of current stage

    Enlargement of peleton section, to show special jerseys
    I love watching the little cyclists pedalling. They’re even wearing an approximation of the different jerseys.

    You reach the Vuelta Live display thus - HOME black tab (which, of course, turns red when clicked on),
    then LIVE grey tab (which turns black!), then click on the link indicated by the small red arrow.
    To reach the stage animation
    [If Adobe Flash Player is not already installed on your computer, the Dinamic [sic.] Route Summary box will instruct you to install the necessary software.
    This is a two-stage process: first, you download and save [best on the desktop] the small installer program,
    then you run that installer program [click on the icon on your desktop]. The instructions provided in your browser are comprehensive, but you need to close the browser to effectuate the installation!]

this year’s race

This year, La Vuelta is 3,295 km long. It comprises:

  • There are 21 stages.
  • 9 flat stages
  • 9 mountain stages
  • 4 medium medium stages
  • 6 summit finishes
  • 1 14 km team time-trial stage
  • 1 40 km individual time-trial stage
  • 2 rest days.












La Vuelta - race map
La Vuelta race map, larger version (.pdf)



New translation, the Magna Carta

the stages

1 Benidorm > Benidorm
20 August [13.5 km]
team time-trial
12 Ponteareas > Pontevedra
1 September [167.3 km]
2 La Nucía > Playas de Orihuela
21 August [175.5 km]
13 Sarria > Ponferrada
2 September [158.2 km]
3 Petrer > Totana
22 August [163 km]
14 Astorga > La Farrapona. Lagos de Somiedo
3 September [172.8 km]
summit finish
4 Baza > Sierra Nevada
23 August [170.2 km]
summit finish
15 Avilés > Anglirú
4 September [142.2 km]
summit finish
5 Sierra Nevada > Valdepeñas de Jaén
24 August [187 km]
R 5 September - rest day
6 Úbeda > Córdoba
25 August [196.8 km]

Villa Romana La Olmeda (Palencia) > Haro
6 September [188.1 km]

7 Almadén > Talavera de la Reina
26 August [187.6 km]
17 Faustino V > Peña Cabarga
7 September [211 km]

Talavera de la Reina > San Lorenzo de El Escorial
27 August [177.3 km]
summit finish

18 Solares > Noja
78 September [174.6 km]
9 Villacastín > Sierra de Bejar. La Covatilla
28 August [183 km]
summit finish
19 Noja > Bilbao
9 September [158.5 km]
10 Salamanca > Salamanca
29 August [47 km]
individual time-trial
20 Bilbao > Vitoria
10 September [185 km]
R 30 August - rest day
21 Circuito del Jarama > Madrid
11 September [94.2 km]
11 Verín > Estación de Esquí Alto de la Manzaneda
31 August [167 km]
summit finish
  detailed itineraries of each day [from dropdown menu]

This year’s race starts in the seaside holiday town of Benidorm


la vuelta race teams

There are twenty-two teams participating. Eighteen are 2011 UCI Pro teams, while four are wild-card teams - Andalucia Caja Granada (ESP), Geox-TMC (ESP), Cofidis le Credit en ligne (FRA), Skil - Shimano (NED):

Quick-step Cycling Team (QST)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (SIL)

Saxo Bank Sungard (SAX)

AG2R-La Mondiale (ALM)
Cofidis, le Crédit en ligne (COF)
Française Des Jeux (FDJ)
Team Europcar

Sky Procycling (SKY)

Lampre-ISD (LAM)
Liquigas-Cannondale (LIQ)

Pro Team Astana (AST)

Team Leopard-Trek

Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB)
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Skil - Shimano (SKS)

Katusha Team (KAT)

Euskaltel-Euskadi (EUS)
Moviestar Team
Andalucia Caja Granada (ACA),
Geox-TMC (SBS)

HTC-Highroad (THR)
Team Garmin-Cervelo (GRM)
Team RadioShack (RSH)
BMC Racing Team (BMC)





new year, new jerseys

La Vuelta race leader's jersey
The race leader’s jersey

points jersey
The points jersey

The other two jerseys are

Best climber’s jersey Best all-rounder's jersey
Left: best climber’s jersey.    Above: best all-rounder’s jersey.


a select dictionary

  • In Spanish, domestiques are called gregarios.
  • The hardest day’s cycling is called la etapa reina.
  • An uphill time trial is el chrono-escalada.
  • Bonk in Spanish is pájara.
  • There is also a Vuelta climb known as Pajares between León and Ovedo.
  • A chuparruedas is a wheel sucker.

For much more on cycling tactics.

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The following is an exceeding boring book, almost like reading a telephone directory. It has notes on all previous runnings of the Vuelta. But in among the addresses and telephone numbers, you will discover all manner of hints on cycling tactics, with interposed examples of dubious practice and cheating. You will also find snippets on the disturbed political background of Spain, from right back to the Civil War and the Franco regime and up until modern times, against which the Vuelta has been held, or not held.

Viva La Vuelta! by Fallon and Bell

Viva La Vuelta!: The Story of Spain's Great Bike Race
by Lucy Fallon and Adrian Bell (foreword by Sean Kelly)

£16.10 []

Mousehold Press, pbk, 2005
ISBN-10: 1874739404
ISBN-13: 978-1874739401

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