Vuelta a España review: The Vuelta in numbers

Key race facts

3,360 – In kilometres, this year’s total race distance.

175 – Number of finishers, out of 198 starters.

84:59:49 – Total race time for overall winner Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), equivalent to an average speed of 39.5kph. (Although in reality it’s slightly slower in ‘real’ time if you discount time bonuses.)

Contador celebrates winning stage 17, which set up his overall victory (image courtesy of Roz Jones)

3 – Spanish riders occupied all three steps on the final podium – ContadorAlejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) – the first time this has happened since 2004 (Roberto Heras, Santi Perez and Francisco Mancebo).

7 – Number of Spanish riders in the final top 11 on GC.

4 – Only four riders wore the leader’s red jersey during the race: Movistar’s Jonathan Castroviejo and Valverde, Rodriguez and Contador.

0 – Number of days on which the race was led by a non-Spanish rider.

4 – Only four riders led the green jersey points competition during the race: John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), Valverde, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Rodriguez.

4 – Number of riders who led the polka dot jersey King of the Mountains competition: Javier Chacon (Andalucia), Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM), Clarke and Valverde. Clarke regained the jersey on stage 14 and never relinquished it. He held the jersey for a total of 12 days.

0 – Having at one stage held three of the four individual jerseys simultaneously, as well as lying a close second in the mountains classification, Joaquim Rodriguez ended with none. He lost the points and all-round jerseys on the final stage.

It was looking so good for so long for Rodriguez … (image courtesy of Katusha)

29 – Number of riders who finished within an hour of Contador’s total time. Only two riders finished within ten minutes (Valverde and Rodriguez).

4:32:35 – Cheng Li (Argos-Shimano) was the last classified finisher, four hours and 32 minutes slower than Contador. Only eight stages took longer to complete than this.

1 – Cheng Li was the first Chinese rider ever to finish any of the three Grand Tours.

4 – Caja Rural’s Francisco Aramendia won the daily combativity prize for the most aggressive rider four times.

The champion

Image courtesy of Roz Jones

29 – Age of Alberto Contador.

1:16 – Contador’s winning margin over Valverde, representing just 0.025% of his total time.

2 – This was only the second time Contador has ridden the Vuelta – and his second overall victory.

5 – It is his fifth Grand Tour victory (excluding the 2010 Tour and the 2011 Giro, which he relinquished as a consequence of his back-dated two-year doping ban.

5 – He is only the fifth rider ever to win five Grand Tours before the age of 30.

1 – Stages won by Contador during the race (stage 17).

5 – Days in the red jersey for Contador, compared to 13 for Rodriguez.

0 – WorldTour points Contador earned for his team with his overall victory, due to his ban.

The stage winners

12 – Number of different stage winners.

4 – Number of riders with multiple stage victories: John Degenkolb (five), Joaquim Rodriguez (three), BMC’s Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde (two each).

Degenkolb (right, in green) dominated the sprints (image courtesy of Susi Goetze)

8 – Different nationalities who won stages: Spain led the way with seven, followed by Germany (five), Belgium and Italy (two each), Australia, Sweden, Britain and Russia (one each).

10 – Only ten of the 22 teams won stages during the race, with Argos-Shimano leading the way with five, all courtesy of Degenkolb.

1Simon Clarke‘s win on stage four was his first professional race victory, in his fourth pro season. His last race win of any kind was in June 2008.

1 – Clarke’s victory in the King of the Mountains competition was the first Grand Tour jersey win for Orica-GreenEDGE in their debut season.

0Philippe Gilbert‘s victory total in 2012 before his two wins here.

And a few other random stats …

1Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol) became the only rider in 2012 to finish all three Grand Tours.

38 – Age of Matteo Tossato (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), the oldest rider in the race.

21 – Age of Tom Dumloulin (Argos-Shinano), the youngest rider in the race. 

48 – Number of Spanish riders who started the race, the most of any nation.

Some information courtesy of

Link: Vuelta a Espana official website

Vuelta a España: Stage 5 review

Stage 5: Logroño to Logroño, 168.0km

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) powered past Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) with apparent ease to take his second sprint victory in this year’s Vuelta. Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) rounded out the podium. Degenkolb now takes over the points jersey from yesterday’s stage winner Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) while Joaquim Rodriguez finished safely in the pack to retain the leader’s red jersey.

Finish of stage 5: Not even close!

Andalucia’s Javier Chacon, who was in a break on Sunday’s stage – also won by Degenkolb – set off in the first few metres of the stage all on his lonesome. The peloton were happy to leave him out to dry in the hot sunshine. Very quickly his lead went out to 12 minutes at which point Degenkolb’s Argonauts started to apply some pressure and, within just 10km, the gap was back below ten minutes and, with assistance from other teams including Caja Rural – anxious to share the limelight – they slowly reeled him back in with under 30km remaining. The pace then increased with teams jostling for supremacy and position but there was so much movement in the bunch that 1988 Vuelta winner Sean Kelly was moved to remark that they were “all over the shop”. [That’s a technical term, I assume? – Ed]

For the first 10km of the last lap, Omega Pharma-Quick Step drove the pace, presumably for Gert Steegmans, but it was a case of too much too soon. They were then swamped by a variety of teams, including those of the first three finishers who managed to keep their form and position to drop off their sprinters a couple of hundred metres from the finish line. Here’s an interview with today’s stage winner:

VeloVoices rider of the day

Javier Chacon (image courtesy of Andalucia)

It has to be 27-year old neo-pro Javier Chacon, who spent pretty much the entire stage out on his own with only his team car for company fortified by ice packs on the neck, copious bidons and even the odd can of Coke. [Other carbonated soft drink brands are available … Ed.]

He’s more noted for his time-trialling ability, winning the under-23 Spanish national title back in 2006. He has a modest palmares that includes a win this year in a stage of the Tour of Azerbaijan. Not unnaturally he was voted most combative rider of the day and earned plenty of valuable airtime for his sponsor.


After two eventful stages, today the peloton found itself riding eight times around a relatively flat 21km cicuit of Logrono in the heart of Rioja country. You may recall that Monday’s stage finished just up the road in Viana while yesterday’s stage started close by at the Faustino V bodega – these wine boys have money to burn.

The Spanish are inordinately fond of circuits although they’re generally hillier. Everyone watches the riders pass by and then they retreat into the nearest bar, of which there are many, to await the peloton’s return. There was a good crowd in the centre of town, most of them wisely spectating from the shady side of the road.

Tactical analysis

Today’s stage afforded the contenders a bit of a rest after two eventful days. Only the points jersey changed hands. There were no incidents –  although there was plenty of further discussion of yesterday’s incident – nothing worthy of any comment, apart from Degenkolb’s win. A bit of a snooze-fest all round.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of as many stages as possible on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Vuelta a España official website