Vuelta a Espana

Tony Rominger
The Vuelta a Espana is o­ne of cycling's three Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. The initial Vuelta was held in 1935, and has been run annually since then, with suspensions due to war and political unrest from 1937-1940, 1943-1944, 1949, and 1951-1954.

The Vuelta was originally held in spring, but was moved to the early fall in 1995 so as not to clash with the Giro d'Italia. The first two Vueltas were won by Gustaaf Deloor of Belgium, while the 2009 Vuelta was won by Alejandro Valverde of Spain. Spanish teams tend to do well in the Vuelta. Spain has 29 wins out of 64 editions of the race, with France second with nine wins and Belgium third with seven. Notable past Vuelta champions include Tony Romiger of Switzerland, who won three times straight from 1992 to 1994, and Roberto Heras of Spain, who also has three wins in 2000 and 2003-2004.

As with the other Grand Tours, leaders in the Vuelta are awarded colored jerseys to mark their positions. The most prestigious are the gold jersey given to the overall leader of the race and the red (formerly blue) jersey worn by the winner of the most stages.

The 2010 Vuelta a Espana, the 75th anniversary of the event, will run from August 28 to September 19 over 21 stages, adding up to 3338 kilometers (2074 miles). This is in comparison to the original 1935 event, which covered 3411 km (2119 miles) but o­nly 14 stages. The 2010 Vuelta kicks off in Seville and travels roughly counterclockwise around Spain, ending in Madrid.