"After a rampaging Giro d’Italia with Stuntman Mike, followed by the holiday-cum-alpine bliss that was le petit tour de la barbe (aka le Tour de France) with ‘ought to be feared, Mrs McBeard’, I am now just one step away from achieving cycling’s triple crown. As an added challenge, I've barely stepped foot into Spain before, let alone experienced the Vuelta España up close. I’m coming in cold, inexperienced, but full of enthusiasm. Oh, and the beard has never been in better form. Watch out Spain, here comes Macho McBeard!"
– Beardy McBeard
Fun facts about la Vuelta a España
Some of the stuff that may or may not make it into the Vuelta España cycling news...
Inspired by the success of French and Italian efforts, it was only a matter of time until a Spanish newspaper jumped on the trend and organised a grand cycling race to capture the nation’s imagination and boost circulation. In this case it was Juan Pujol and his Informaciones paper in 1935.
Unlike the inaugural Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, which were won by an Italian and a Frenchman respectively, the first Vuelta España was, much to the disappointment of fans, media and commercial interests, won by Belgian Gustaaf Deloor. Spaniard Mariano Canardo finished second.
Deloor repeated the dose the following year, leading, some believe, to the Spanish Civil War. Revenge is a gazpacho best served cold, however, and, after 3 years on ice, the Vuelta returned in 1941 - this time only offering ‘limited’ international entries. Unsurprisingly, native son Julian Berrendero saluted twice (1941 and 1942), before the outbreak of WWII slowed his roll.
The great man Eddy Merckx dominated the 1973 Vuelta, winning 6 stages and 2 of the 3 classification jerseys (coming second in the mountains classification). Laurent Jalabert arguably went one better, winning all 3 classification jerseys, along with 5 stage wins to boot. Eddy wouldn’t have been too worried though, given he had already swept the pool at the 1968 Giro and the 1969 Tour de France. The Cannibal’s reputation as the GOAT was safe.
Miguel ‘Big Mig’ Indurain never won the Vuelta España (he won just about everything else), much to the chagrin of an adoring nation. He did, however, bow out on home turf after the 1996 race, much like fellow countryman Alberto Contador will do this year.
Despite Big Mig not saluting in Madrid, Spaniards have won the event 30 times - the most of any nation. The record for the most Vuelta wins also belongs to a Spaniard, with Roberto Heras winning 4 times. This was not without controversy, however, with his 2005 win being tarnished after he was disqualified just days after the race finished (on account of testing positive for EPO). The test was initially upheld, with Heras stripped of the title, which was then awarded to Denis Menchov. However, a, ahem, Spanish Court overturned the positive test shortly thereafter, and re-awarded the win, and title, back to the Spaniard.
There was a special cocktail created for the first Vuelta - containing orange bitters, Grand Marnier, orange Curaçao, gin and vermouth. This tasty little number was, apparently, created to help the riders complete their arduous undertaking. However, to this day, no one knows what the cocktail was called. Challenge accepted - see you at the bar!
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