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la vuelta a españa, 2012

a climber’s paradise

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 and glossary

the cycling zone

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la Vuelta a España, 2014 - climbs to glory

la Vuelta a España, 2013 - race to the summits

La Vuelta a Espana, 2012 - climber's paradise

a climber’s race - La Vuelta a Espana 2011

Vuelta a Espana, 2010 - an eco-tour

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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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Barcelona and St George

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Franco was not a fascist

the spanish vuelta
this year’s race
first week - short report
2012 race favourites
the race map
the stages
la vuelta race teams
a select dictionary
end notes


The third of the trio of major Tour-type cycle races starts on 18 August 2012, at Pamplona, the capital of Spanish Basqueland.

this year’s race

This year, La Vuelta is 3,300 km long. It comprises:

  • 21 stages
  • 6 flat stages
  • 5 mountain stages
  • 6 summit finishes
  • 37 mountain passes and hills
  • 5 medium mountain stages
  • a 16 km team time-trial stage
  • a 30 km individual time-trial stage
  • 2 rest days

Perhaps strangely, or perhaps not so considering Spain’s economic problems, the most southerly point of this year’s Vuelta a Espagna will be Madrid. Other theories for the stage choices are saving the riders and spectators from the worst of the grinding Spanish summer heat, or making a race that does not suit Bradley Wiggins, unlike this year’s Tour de France.

However, the perponderance of mountain stages and finishes looks to be tailor-made for Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez. As he commented, “The first part of the Vuelta is where you don’t want to lose the race, the second part is where you will win it”. Another Spanish rider will also be satisfied with this years route, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel – Euskadi), for whom the 40 km time trial should be the only nuisance.

The Vuelta criss-crosses the Pyrenees, including a visit into the Principality of Andorra, finishing the first part at Barcelona. A flight to the north-west coast enables the wealthier Basque regions to be explored, before ending up at Spain’s capital, Madrid.

The seventh stage, from Huesca to Alcañiz, finishes at the Circuito de Alcani, also known as Motorland Aragón. This race track, 5.3 km long, is usually used by motorbikes and racing cars.


first week - short report

After 11 of 21 stages, the Vuelta is down to four possible winners - but all the serious climbing is ahead.

1 101 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT 40h 26' 15''
2 201 CONTADOR, Alberto STB + 1''
3 181 FROOME, Christopher SKY + 16''
4 9 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV + 59''


2012 race favourites

Most of the big names are not riding in this year’s Vuelta, preferring to concentrate their efforts on the recent Tour de France and the UCI road cycling World Championship to come in September.

Juan Jose Cobo, defending Vuelta champion, is the lead rider of Spanish-based Movistar team.

Joaquin Oliver Rodriguez, second in this year’s Giro d’Italia and points jersey winner, leads the Katusha Team. Chris Froome will lead Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins not particiating after his successes in the TDF and the London Olympics. Froome was second overall in the Vuelta last year, and again in the Tour de France this year, as well as winning the Bronze Medal in the 2012 Olympics road race.

‘El Pistolero’, Alberto Contador (Vuelta winner in 2008), returns from his suspension to lead the Saxo Bank team. He will be the red hot favourite in this race that is designed to favour climbers. Alejandro Valverde [Moviestar], also banned for two years, appears to have returned strong. He was first in the 2009 Vuelta.

A complete list of competitors (and team jerseys) is available on the official Vuelta web site.


the stages

time trial           flat - on the plain           medium mountains           mountains           rest day
1 Pamplona - Pamplona
18 August [16.2 km]
team time-trial
12 Vilagarcía de Arousa > Dumbría. Mirador de Ézaro
30 August [184.6 km]
2 Pamplona - Viana
19 August [180.0 km]
13 Santiago de Compostela > Ferrol
31 August [172.7 km]
3 Faustino V > Eibar (Arrate)
20 August [153.0 km]
14 Palas de Rei > Puerto de Ancares
1 September [152.0 km]
4 Barakaldo > Estación de Valdezcaray
21 August [155.4 km]
15 La Robla > Lagos de Covadonga
2 September [186.7 km]
5 Logroño > Logroño
22 August [172.0 km]
16 Gijón > Valgrande-Pajares. Cuitu Negru
3 September [185.0 km]
6 Tarazona > Jaca
23 August [174.8 km]

4 September - rest day

7 Huesca > Alcañiz. Motorland Aragón
24 August [160.0 km]
17 Santander > Fuente Dé
5 September [177.0 km]

Lleida > Andorra. Collada de la Gallina
25 August [175.0 km]

18 Aguilar de Campoo > Valladolid
6 September [186.4 km]
9 Andorra > Barcelona
26 August [194.0 km]
19 Peñafiel > La Lastrilla
7 September [169.0 km]
R 27 August - rest day 20 La Faisanera Golf. Segovia 21 > Bola del Mundo
8 September [169.5 km]
10 Ponteareas > Sanxenxo
28 August [166.4 km]
21 Cercedilla > Madrid
9 September [111.9 km]
11 Cambados > Pontevedra
29 August [40.0 km]
individual time trial
  detailed itineraries of each day [from dropdown menu]

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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.

watching on tv

Watch the Vuelta on Eurosport UK [schedule]. Eurosport will be providing between 1½ and 2½ hours broadcast every afternoon when there is racing.

ITV4 will broadcast a 60-minute highlights programme from each race day. provides information on many tv broadcasts for the Vuelta, from about halfway down the page.







advertising disclaimer


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



New translation, the Magna Carta


la vuelta race teams

There are

Four teams have been given a wild card (there is one more team to be anounced):


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!]






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


end notes

  1. Confirmed by a local friendly Spaniard, because each town in the Vuelta pays for the privelege of welcoming the race, only the northern towns have sufficient funds available.

  2. However, Wiggo can be seen next month (September) in the eight-stage Tour of Britain that starts from Ipswich.

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