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Everything you need to know about the 77th Tour of Spain
Date: Friday August 19, 2022 – Sunday September 11, 2022 
Start: Utrecht, The Netherlands
Finish: Madrid, Spain
Total distance: 3,280.5km
Stages: 21
Riders: 184
Teams: 23
Defending champion: Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
Key info: Route | Favourites | Climbs
The Vuelta a España, or La Vuelta, is one of cycling’s three Grand Tours, along with the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
Part of the UCI WorldTour, the three-week race is the most prestigious race in Spain and has is now in its 77th edition. While it took time for the Vuelta to gain similar footing with the Tour and the Giro, overall victory at the race is a coveted prize that will often see the best riders in cycling go head-to-head to win.
Like the other Grand Tours, the Vuelta is held over 21 individual stages (plus two rest days) with the general classification victory awarded to the rider with the lowest aggregated time at the end of the race. While the jersey of overall leader has changed numerous times in the race’s history, it made the switch from yellow jersey to the red jersey in 2010 and has remained that way since.
Though the Vuelta is similar in format to the Giro and the Tour, it still holds much of its own identity. The route, which changes every year, in recent editions has been defined by its aggressive amount of climbing, offering very little opportunity at stage wins to sprinters or rouleurs in the way of flat routes and time trials.
This year looks to offer more for the fast-men thanks to the race’s start in the Netherlands, while there’s a team time trial and an individual time trial across the three weeks. Still, as usual there’s a huge amount of climbing to be taken on and that is where the race will ultimately be decided.
Defending champion and three-time winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is yet to be confirmed as a starter for this year’s edition, but would enter the race as a strong favourite for victory if he has overcome the injury he suffered at the Tour de France.
The Vuelta a España this year features 23 teams, 18 of which are UCI WorldTour teams. Those teams are required to field a team for each WorldTour event, so each of the top teams in the world will be at the start line of this year’s Vuelta. There’s then five second division ProTeams in the starting line-up, including Alpecin-Deceuninck and Arkéa-Samsic, who receive automatic invites due to their place in the UCI rankings. The remaining teams are chosen as wildcard invites by the organiser, with three Spanish ProTeams selected to race in this edition.
This year’s Vuelta a España route is staged over 24 days rather than 23 and starts on a Friday, as it begins far away from Spain in the Netherlands.
The riders will face an opening team time trial (a rarity in recent Grand Tours) in Utrecht before two sprint stages to round off the Dutch opening of the race. From there the peloton heads to Spain on the first Monday, a travel day, before the racing resumes in the Basque region in the north of the country.
It’s straight into the climbing for the riders on some medium mountain days before the first summit finish on stage six. There’s two further summit finishes in the north of Spain before the race stops again for the second rest day, when the whole circus will move to almost the opposite end of the country.
The Vuelta resumes in Elche for the second week with a 30km individual time trial, which will be a test for the riders after a day of rest. The race then heads southwards along the coast on a flat stage before another summit finish on stage 12.
There’s one more flat stage before two gruelling summit finishes on stages 14 and 15. The first is on the shorter but steeper climb to Sierra de la Pandera, before the long climb to the race’s highest point of Sierra Nevada on stage 15. 
There’s a welcome rest day following the battle to Sierra Nevada, with a flat stage the following day taking the riders northward towards Madrid.
A short summit finish on stage 17 precedes the three final mountain stages of the race, which includes two summit finishes.
The overall Vuelta title will be decided at the finish line of stage 20, with a more processional stage to follow in Madrid to close off the 2022 edition of the race.
A stage-by-stage guide to the route of the 2022 Vuelta a España
A look at the leading contenders for this year’s Vuelta a España
Who will be making headlines in the 2022 Vuelta a España?
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