All the anticipation is building for the opening weekend’s action, which includes another two very flat stages in the Netherlands before a long transfer to the Basque Country in Northern Spain.
Multiple big names will be in action once again. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) won the recent Clásica de San Sebastián and is a name on everyone’s lips as a potential winner. The Belgian rider’s team mate Julian Alaphilippe is also set to race with the aim of targeting stage wins.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) are another two favourites for overall victory. Last year, Roglič won a spectacular stage that finished at Lagos de Covadonga. The Slovenian rider is targeting a fourth successive overall victory at this year’s Vuelta.
With all of these exciting riders due to compete, these are the stages we advise you not to miss if you want to catch all of the drama in the final Grand Tour of the 2022 season.
STAGE FIVE: IRUN – BILBAO 187 KILOMETRES
Stage five brings the riders into the heart of the Spanish Basque Country with five difficult punchy climbs on the menu.
The climbing only really starts after 95 kilometres, however when it does, it’s going to get difficult very quickly. Three of the climbs are category three before two ascents of category two Alto del Vivero.
Any final selection for the potential stage winner will be done on the Vivero as the riders are roared on by seas of screaming Basque fans. The region is famous for its cycling, with multiple high profile riders including Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) coming from the local area.
However, the parcours is slightly similar to the Clásica de San Sebastián and the climbs aren’t steep enough to see a rider like Landa come out on top. The punchy classics style route favours riders in the mould of Alaphilippe who excel on the shorter climbs.
If the Frenchman hasn’t quite found his form yet, then riders such as Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) could be well in contention.
With Carapaz being the lead rider at Ineos Grenadiers, Ethan Hayter could also be given the nod to get into breakaways and challenge on days like today too.
STAGE SIX: BILBAO-ASCENSION AL PICO JANO. SAN MIGUEL DE AGUAYO 181 KILOMETRES
With the racing still in the Basque Country, stage six brings the first summit finish of the 2022 Vuelta.
The 181 kilometre stage will see the riders tackle the gruelling slopes of the Ascensión al Pico Jano. San Miguel de Aguayo on the final climb to cap a difficult few days.
Prior to reaching the final climb, the riders will have already tackled a category two climb as well as the category one Collada de Brenes and it’s likely the stage will provide the first real show from the overall favourites.
If the overall favourites are content with letting a potential breakaway slip up the road, the stage may provide an opportunity for other climbers such as Mike Woods (Israel-PremierTech) or Louis Meintjes (Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert)
STAGE 10: ELCHE-ALICANTE 30 KILOMETRES (INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL)
Straight after the second rest day, stage 10 sees the riders tackle a 30 kilometre individual time trial on a very flat course along the Levante coastline.
The route heads downhill for the first 16 kilometres which will give some of the big general classification riders a chance to push some serious power numbers. Riders like Richard Carapaz won’t enjoy a time trial such as this, for the pure climbers it will simply be about damage limitation ahead of the mountains to come.
Primož Roglič won the opening individual time trial at last year’s Vuelta. The Slovenian rider is targeting a fourth successive overall win at the Spanish Grand Tour and will be a huge favourite for the stage into Alicante.
STAGE 15: MARTOS-SIERRA NEVADA. ALTO HOYA DE LA MORA 149 KILOMETRES
Stage 15 comes before the final rest day at the Vuelta and will make for a horrific day of climbing for the riders.
The Sierra Nevada is often hot and dry and to make matters worse, the riders face more than 4,000 metres of climbing.
After some undulating terrain for the first 74 kilometres, the riders then face the brutal Alto del Purche, a monster climb in its own right. The climb is 9.1 kilometres in length with an average gradient of 7.6%. Once the Purche is out of the way, the journey continues deep into the heart of the Sierra Nevada towards the foot of the Alto Hoya de la Mora, a 12 kilometre climb averaging 6.8%.
Any climbers that are on the peripherals of the top three places in the overall standings will look to seize the opportunity to make up some time here.
STAGE 20: MORALZARZAL- PUERTO DE NAVACERRADA 181 KILOMETRES
The penultimate day of racing at the 2022 edition of the Vuelta a Espana brings yet another challenging mountain stage.
Five climbs are on the menu, the first of which is the Puerto de Navacerrada. The course also finishes atop this climb although tackled from a different side. The second climb is the Puerto de Navafria which is just under 10 kilometres long with an average gradient of 5.5%, then the Puerto de Canencia follows which is 7.5 kilometres long at 4.9%.
A trio of challenging categorised climbs are thrown into the final section of the parcours. First up is the Puerto de la Morcuera. At nine kilometres in length with an average gradient of just under 7% it will provide a gruelling test ahead of the final test.
The final climb of the day and of the race is the Puerto de Cotos which is 10.3 kilometres long at 6.9%. Once the riders reach the top of the climb they then face a false flat run into the finish as they reach Puerto de Navacerrada once more.
If we’ve piqued your interest then you just click here to find out how to watch these key Vuelta a España 2022 stages!