Viva la Vuelta! – The story of Spain’s great bike race 1935–2013
Between the two images depicted on the front cover lie almost 80 years of Vuelta a España history. In 1935, day after day, Mariano Cañardo carried the fight to the powerful Belgian squad; in 2012 Alejandro Valverde was one of three Spaniards whose unremitting attacking turned the race into one of the best Vueltas ever. In the intervening years 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 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 since translated into Dutch and Spanish, this second English edition of Viva la Vuelta! brings the story of the race up to 2013.
‘The Vuelta is often the most unpredictable of the major tours – you never know from one day to the next what is going to happen. Viva la Vuelta! captures all the spirit and history of the race and – just as fascinating – the great upheavals Spain has gone though in the course of the race’s history.’
– Phil Liggett MBE, Cycling Broadcaster OLN and ITV
‘As a relative newcomer to the big three tours, the Vuelta a España has progressively acquired a wide international following. This book explains its evolution and beautifully captures its unique appeal.’
– David Duffield, Cycling Broadcaster British Eurosport