Alejandro Valverde says goodbye to the Spanish round with a jersey in tribute to his career

The mediatic absence of Nairo Quintana, sanctioned for doping, plunders the previous one


The Vuelta a España 2022 starts this Friday from Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and will end in Madrid on Sunday, September 11, with an open list of candidates to succeed a Primoz Roglic who will defend the crown and who is seeking the record of winning four Vueltas online, although the protagonist will be, whatever he does, an Alejandro Valverde who will use his ‘Last Bullet’ in the Spanish round.

The owner of ‘La Roja’ is wanted and a Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) who won the race in its last three editions enters La Vuelta with many numbers. The Slovenian, who was unable to finish the Tour de France –as happened in 2021–, has the absolute record for consecutive Laps within reach, which he now shares with Tony Rominger and Roberto Heras.

It is one of the great attractions of this Vuelta 22 that starts from the ‘orange’ Netherlands, in Utrecht, with three stages that include the initial team time trial and two flat stages searching, with permission from the leaks and with attention to the wind, two massive sprints to open the fight for the classification of regularity.

In total, La Vuelta 22 will cover 3,280.5 kilometers in its 21 stages, divided into 6 flat stages, 2 flat stages with a high finish, 4 medium-mountain stages, 7 mountain stages, 1 team time trial and 1 individual time trial and 3 days off.

There are always novelties in La Vuelta, unexpected script twists caused by unpublished ports that the best filmmaker would sign. And the director of this Vuelta, Javier Guillén, bets this time on El Colláu Fancuaya, the Tentudía Monastery and Alto del Piornal, new peaks for the ‘great’ Spanish.

Who can be the leading actors? A lots of. Primoz Roglic is perhaps the most flashy, for that record that he is chasing in this edition, the 77th of La Vuelta. The Slovenian, however, does not start as the clear or only favorite and you will see several rivals who come to the event ready to take the final prize in Madrid.

At a national level, we have to look at Enric Mas (Movistar Team) as well as the new generation played by Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates), Carlos Rodríguez (INEOS Grenadiers) or Juanpe López (Trek Segafredo), who face a great showcase. And, although he rules himself out, the ‘landism’ of Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) should never be underestimated. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) still has more doubts, in search of his redemption.


But, although he is not here to fight for the general classification unless he finds extra strength in the spirits from the ditches, this Vuelta belongs to Alejandro Valverde. The Murcian, at 42 years old, retires after this season and will use his ‘Last Bullet’ in this Spanish round, which he won in 2009 in addition to winning 12 stages in his 15 Vueltas.

The organization of the race is preparing to say goodbye to one of its great protagonists. As well as his team, the Movistar Team, who will wear a unique jersey for the occasion, white and with the winners of the Murcian, to pay tribute to a Valverde who will seek to respond to such honors with stage wins and being the best possible in the general classification. The Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), winner in 2010, will also bid farewell to La Vuelta.


Beyond Roglic, Mas, Valverde or the new Spanish trio, this Tour of Spain, the last ‘Grand’ of the season, will feature some of the best names in the international peloton. Among them, Miguel Ángel López (Astana), Ben O’Connor (AG2R), Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe), Richard Carapaz or Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), among others.

Finally, the Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic) will not be in La Vuelta, who resigned from it after it was announced this Thursday that the UCI sanctioned him with the disqualification of the last Tour de France (he was sixth) for testing positive for tramadol.

Beyond the men in the general classification, we will have to keep an eye on Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step) –who can shake up the general classification as well as looking for stages– and his teammate Julian Alaphilippe, as well as Ethan Hayter (INEOS) or Sam Bennet (BORA-hansgrohe) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin), one of the best sprinters of the moment.