Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The Vuelta a España, the final of the three Grand Tour races of the season, begins tomorrow as the eyes of the world turn to UAE Team Emirates to round off a brilliant year with a strong showing in one of the highlight events of the racing calendar.
The race itself begins with a 23.3km Time-Trial in Utrecht, before heading into Spain. Spanning across 21 stages, the bulk of the route is made up of 7 mountain stages, 6 flat stages, and 4 hilly stages. As well as this, the teams will be faced with two flat stages with high-altitude finales, a team Time-Trial, and an individual Time-Trial.
Initially, the riders will initially be faced with a handful of fast flat stages where the sprinters will be looking to make their mark. Pascal Ackermann will be leading the charge for UAE Team Emirates on the flat, fresh from his strong showing in the Tour De Pologne after victory in stage 4.
As the race transitions into the mountains halfway through the first week, the climbers will come into their own and look to steal an early march on their rivals in the General Classification. UAE Team Emirates will be led by Portuguese talent Joao Almeida, who has had a successful 2022 thus far.
Almeida is coming into the Vuelta a España off of a stellar win in the Queens Stage in the Vuelta Burgos, where he ascended past his rivals in the dying embers of the race before finishing with a trademark kick to the line to seal an impressive stage victory. After finishing second overall in the General Classification, Almeida and UAE Team Emirates will be hoping he can pick up where he left off and capitalize on his good form to sit atop of the podium in Madrid come Sunday September 11th.
Speaking ahead of the race, Almeida was quoted as saying:
“It’s my first Vuelta and I’m really excited to get started. At Vuelta Burgos it finished on a high-note and it was a good boost for the confidence to take the win on the last day. I felt like a rode myself into that race. I’m feeling good again on the bike and with a strong team I think we can do some really nice things at this race. It’s hard to say what to expect but I think the objectives can become clearer as the race goes on. It will be a long road from Utrecht to Madrid but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
The race will also see Juan Ayuso competing in the first Grand Tour event of his career for UAE Team Emirates. As the youngest rider in the race, Ayuso will be hoping he can make an impact on the global cycling stage in his native country. The 19-year-old Spanish starlet is coming into the race off of a mightily impressive maiden professional victory at the Circuit De Gexto. Following this victory, it was announced that Ayuso had committed his future to UAE Team Emirates by signing a long-term contract extension until 2028.
It is certainly all to play for as the Vuelta a España kicks off ahead of 21 gruelling, challenging, yet brilliantly exciting stages.