La Vuelta a España 2022
The 2022 Vuelta a España will be synonymous with one name: Remco. We knew Evenepoel had the talent, now he has a Grand Tour trophy to go with it. He was the shining star of the race, putting his rivals to the sword in the opening ten days and leading from the front.
Stage six stays in the memory, a clear first sign that something special was unfolding. As the mists dramatically rolled over the mountain, Evenepoel rode the other contenders off his wheel. Only teenager Juan Ayuso finished within a minute of him.
He finished the day in the leader’s red jersey, which he wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the Vuelta. Evenepoel rode like a man unburdened by home pressure or expectation. His triumph makes it three out of three Grand Tour wins in 2022 for the new Dura-Ace R9200 groupset: a true holy trinity.
Alongside Evenepoel, we take a look back at some of the star riders and teams who made this year’s Vuelta such an engrossing spectacle
Jumbo-Visma juggernaut gets rolling
The opening days in the Netherlands were defined by the home team’s prowess. Jumbo-Visma won the opening TTT around Utrecht and then passed the leader’s jersey around their team. After Robert Gesink crossed the line first on day one, Mike Teunissen and Eduardo Affini wore red on subsequent days.
On stage four, back in Spain, Primož Roglič sprinted to victory uphill at Laguardia to move into the lead, showing his returning form after his damaging Tour de France fall.
Alas, it would not carry on as perfectly as it started. After losing time to Evenepoel in the race’s first half, it then looked like the race for rojo would go down to the wire. The defending champion put time back into his Belgian rival on back-to-back finishes on stages 14 and 15. But a fall – yet more misfortune – within sight of the finish on stage 16 forced him to abandon.
Bennett back to his best
It has been a difficult season for Sam Bennett, but within 48 hours, he had the wins he craved. The Irish BORA-hansgrohe racer sprinted to back-to-back stage victories in Utrecht and Breda respectively, guided well by lead-out man Danny van Poppel.
He left mid-race with COVID-19, but those two stage wins will do his confidence wonders and reminded the cycling world that he can beat the best.
Molard’s red-letter day
The race had its fifth leader in the space of five stages when Groupama-FDJ rider Rudy Molard infiltrated the breakaway on stage 5 to Bilbao and played it smart.
Part of a 13-man breakaway, he watched his closest GC rival in the group, Fred Wright, like a hawk, shutting down his attacks. It ensured he’d pip him and spend a day in the red jersey. It was the second time in his career after a spell in front back in 2018.
Vine is fine
Jay Vine was better known as a cycling eSports world champion before the Vuelta, but he showed he’s a heck of a road racer too.
The Alpecin-Deceuninck climber was the toast of the race’s first mountain stages.
In the misty weather of Pico Jano on stage 6, he held off a chasing Remco Evenepoel after tearing through the remnants of a breakaway from the group of favourites. He did it again on stage 8, this time outlasting his fellow escapees.
The Australian’s victories made the race for a success for Alpecin-Deceuninck. The King of the Mountains title seemed destined to be his too, until he crashed out on stage 18. Once he’s recovered, there’ll no doubt be more to come from fine Vine.
DSM’s flying Dutchman
It was a race of discovery for Thymen Arensman. Leading Team DSM for the first time in a Grand Tour, he saved his best for the final week. At the high altitude finish of Sierra Nevada on stage 15, he joined an escape and went solo to win the race’s queen stage and move into the top ten overall.
He backed up that ride by keeping with the favourites when it mattered most and attacking in the final kilometres of the Vuelta’s final climb, the Puerto de Navacerrada. It made all the difference, earning enough time to move up to sixth overall, just one second ahead of Carlos Rodríguez.
Carapaz shows his quality
Olympic champion Richard Carapaz had a race of two halves. He was disappointed to drop out of the GC running early on, but it gave him freedom to go up the road and target mountain stages – and how he did that.
None of his wins came easy, but he was a master of judging the perfect time to attack. On the steep gradients of Peñas Blancas on stage 12, he held off the spirited chase of BORA-hansgrohe man Wilco Kelderman. Two days later on La Pandera, as Roglič rode like a whirlwind behind, the Ecuadorian hit the gas from his escape and finished just ahead.
The cherry on top of the cake came on the Vuelta’s peultimate day, with a third stage win on the Navacerrada. It was an antidote to the misfortune of his Ineos Grenadiers team, as their young leader Carlos Rodríguez had crashed on stage 18 and eventually dropped to seventh overall, hampered by his injuries.
Evenepoel blows everyone away
There were plenty of question marks pre-race about how Evenepoel would handle racing at altitude, steep climbs, decorated peers like Roglič and Hindley, the deep end of a Grand Tour’s third week. Those have all been answered by his Vuelta display.
He laid the groundwork by leaving rivals behind on stage 6 at Pico Jano and Les Praeres on stage 9 to set the tone for the race. Fans were stunned.
His lead kept increasing; his stage 10 time trial victory in the red jersey gave him a 2:41 buffer over closest challenger Roglič.
His Quick-Step AlphaVinyl squad marshalled the bunch for a fortnight, and we got used to the sight of Evenepoel in red.
Race over? Hardly. There were blips that only heightened the drama: a crash on stage 12 and significant time shed to Roglič two days later on La Pandera. However, showing his toughness, Evenepoel bounced back strongly and took a second stage win of the race on Alto del Piornal.
It was a thoroughly deserving Vuelta victory, ahead of Enric Mas of Movistar and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates). Belgium has its first Grand Tour title in 44 years and Evenepoel has crowned a stunning 2022 season with the finest victory of his career. Believe the hype: the boy wonder has come of age.
A majority of the peloton -including this year's winner- uses Shimano's top of the range DURA-ACE R9200 groupset. Our fastest groupset for those who never compromise.