The count down has started to the two of the most important tours here in Spain this year.
The Vuelta a España and the Vuelta a Menorca.
Vuelta a España
The Vuelta a España was first raced in 1933, with a goal to emulate long-distance road racing that was greatly popularised by French Tour de France and Italian Giro d’Italia. But it wasn’t until 1955 that it was held on a consistent basis. It is only in recent years that it has really gained stature as a true “Grand Tour”. Vuelta organisers realised that with a spring calendar crowded with Classics and the Giro, the Vuelta would always have trouble competing for the best riders (Miguel Indurain had missed 3 consecutive Vueltas by 1994). In 1995 the Spanish national tour was moved from its traditional late April start to late summer.
The vast majority of teams that take part of this race are UCI ProTeams, but the organisers of the race regularly invite “wild card teams”. As all other Grand Tours, Vuelta a España has same racing and qualification format. The race is ridden over 3 weeks and winner of the race is determined by the lowest aggregate time across all stages – the yellow jersey of the Tour de France is replaced by the bright red jersey of the Vuelta). In addition to the general classification, race also features competitions for points, mountain tracks, combination classification for all-round cyclist and team classification.
Running from Saturday August 19th to Sunday September 10th 2017, the 7th edition of the Vuelta will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,297.7 kilometres. The race will start in Nîmes & finish in Madrid and is made up of 5 flat stages and 1 flat with high-altitude finales stage, 8 hill stages, 5 mountain stages, 1 individual time trial stage & 1 team time trial stage. It is only the third time in history that the start has been in another country. The headlines are not solely reserved for the cycling – in 1977, Sheila and B.Devotion inaugurated this sporting and musical tradition with “Singing in the rain” and there has been a Vuelta song ever since. This year treat is at the hands of Maldita Nerea – The song ‘Bailarina’ will accompany the La Vuelta 2017 peloton from its departure in Nîmes until the finale in Madrid!
For more information on the race and to hear the Vuelta song visit – www.lavuelta.com
The Vuelta a Menorca
The three-day Tour of Menorca is a sportive that promises great riding, great food and stunning scenery. The 16th edition kicks off on Friday 20th October and is centred around the square in Mahon.
Each day features a different route, out and back from the base, in the island’s capital. As you would expect, the event features mechanical and medical back-up, well stocked feed stations and a broom wagon if it all gets too much.
People often use the word unique out of context. However, when describing the Vuelta a Menorca you would be correct in saying that it is unique in it’s format and the hospitality of the organiser Arturo Sintes. Arturo’s personality and friendly character results a wonderful jovial feel to the event – far removed from mass participation sportives such as the Etape du Tour! Despite some challenging distances, across the undulating landscape, there is the constant buzz of people chatting, laughing & posing questions to the professional riders. Post ride beverages flow and riders exchanges
Arturo, formally the President of the Cycling Federation invites a number of current and past professional cyclist to the event – last year it was the turn of Team Sky and we were joined by David Lopez, Mikel Landa, and Bernat Intxaugusti. We wait with baited breath to see who is on this year’s guest list!
From year to year, the format varies very little. Friday’s short ride is a little loosener and then there are two longer rides on the Saturday & Sunday. In previous years, on the Friday, we have enjoyed a short 35km spin out covering the southern tip of the island, stopping for a tipple at a family owned vineyard.
On Saturday it’s about 110km, which includes a timed hill climb. In 2015 it was a 1.5km (10%) climb and lunch at Arturo’s bicycle museum in Es Mercadal, in the centre of the island.
Sunday is the most challenging day. Although the route is only 62km in length, it takes in the highest point in the island at Monte Toro (358m above sea level); a three kilometre climb averaging more than eight per cent. There are prizes for first three male and female riders to the top and any local professionals who ride the sportive are not allowed to compete for this prize but are more than happy to tow anyone to the top.
The event is concluded with a somewhat entertaining sit down lunch and prize giving. Very few riders escape a mention or a prize – everyone being called up on stage at some time or another. The British contingent were made to feel very welcome and singled out for praise & friendly banter. In 2016 there were 300 riders of which over 100 were British! The rest of the riders are made up of clubs and individuals from Menorca and Mallorca, with many riders taking the ferry between Mallorca and Menorca
For the explorers that love to organise trips themselves, the entry for all three days costs just €62…. to make life easier I would definitely recommend staying near Mahon. To registrater, visit the www.menorcacicloturista.com/vuelta-a-menorca
For those who prefer the hassle free option, we can organise everything for you. We stay in a wonderful 4 star hotel set in a natural bay near Mahon. On Friday we help you with your bikes, before heading out for stage 1. The rides on day 2 & 3 start & finish just a short ride from our hotel.
Itinerary – 3 nights
Friday 20th October – Transfer from airport to the hotel. Our mechanic will be available to resolve any bike issues. The ride starts at Ferial Poima-Maó in Mahon at 3:45pm. Later in the evening at 7:30pm there is a welcome reception including a presentation, some wine and nibbles.
Saturday 21st October – The ride departs the square at 9am and returns at 2pm. You are then free to enjoy the rest of the day. We will organise a dinner in Mahon for those who want to join.
Sunday 22nd October – The ride departs the square at 8:45am and returns at 12:30pm. The event is concluded with a rather entertaining farewell lunch, with the presentation of trophies, at the Recinto Ferial Poima–Maó. After the festivities we head to the beach for some well earned cold beverages and a swim.
Monday 23rd October – Breakfast, quick 40km spin out & transfer to the airport for a late flight home
Dan Marsh – Founder