Viva la Vuelta! – The story of Spain’s great bike race 1935–2018
Between the two images depicted on the front cover lie almost 85 years of Vuelta a España history. In 1935, day after day, Mariano Cañardo carried the fight to the powerful Belgian squad; in 2018 a young Englishman, Simon Yates, stood on the top step of the podium after a race-long battle with the veteran Alejandro Valverde who had ridden to his first Vuelta stage-win fifteen years earlier. In those intervening years between 1935 and 2018 the Vuelta has survived a civil war, four decades of dictatorship, periods of economic and diplomatic isolation, desperate years when the country was close to famine, disruption through political violence, and finally the restoration of democracy and Spain’s welcome into the European Community.
The race has changed hands several times and been shifted from spring to late summer. It has seen the triumph of stars like Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault (twice and with greater panache); it has also given a range of other top cyclists, such as Lucho Herrera and Sean Kelly, the opportunity to taste the glory of winning a grand stage race; then there have been the unknowns who came along and, out of the blue, surprised everybody by winning. And above all the history of the Vuelta recounts the story of the Spanish cyclists whose lives reflect the incredible changes their country has undergone in those eighty-five years.
Viva la Vuelta! is also an account of a race trying to establish itself in an international calendar where the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia had the advantage of a clear head-start. At times the Vuelta has suffered from an inferiority complex, but its current organisers have approached their race with an innovative spirit, always on the look-out for new routes and mountains to climb, and seeking to create dynamic, fiercely contested stages. For many followers of cycle-racing, the most interesting, and excitingly competitive racing of the three major tours now takes place in Spain.
First published in 2005, and revised in 2013, and translated into Dutch and Spanish, this third English edition of Viva la Vuelta! brings the story of the race up to 2018.