The Grand Tour trilogy was not completed until 1935, when, following the success of the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España was organised in Spain. It took a long time for the Vuelta to be recognized as one of the most important UCI World Tour events. This event was disrupted for several years in the beginning due to various issues such as the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and even poor organisation. However, the Spanish tour is considered now as prestigious as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia, and every cyclist in all over the world dreams to be one Vuelta a España record holder.
The latest format of the Vuelta is held each year over 21 day-long stages, a 23-day period that includes two rest days. The route changes each year, however the race format remains constant, with at least two time trials, a passage through the Pyrenees mountain chain, and the finish in the Spanish capital Madrid. Every year, over 180 cyclists compete in this legendary race, but only a few of them succeed in setting a new record. The story of the legendary Vuelta record holders and their quest for victory is fascinating and enjoyable to read.
Who has won the Vuelta a España the most?
A Spanish rider, Roberto Heras, holds the record for most wins on the Spanish Tour. He won the Vuelta a España four times: in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2005. Roberto won his first Vuelta in 2000, also winning two stages and the points classification. He repeated this incredible feat only three years later, winning the Vuelta again in 2003. He was considered a contender for the 2004 Tour de France, but he dropped out after the 16th stage due to a lack of fitness.
Roberto Heras won two mountain stages and lost the final time trial by less than a second in the 2005 Vuelta a España. Heras won for the fourth time; however, a drug test two months later, in November 2005, revealed a positive test for EPO from the day of the time trial. Heras was fired and was sentenced to a two-year suspension. His Vuelta victory went to Russian rider, Denis Menchov, who finished second. However Heras filed an appeal, claiming inaccuracies in the testing and improper handling of his samples. He successfully appealed this decision in the civil court and the Spanish cycling federation subsequently reinstated Heras as 2005 champion.
Most individual time trial wins in the Vuelta a España
Many professional cyclists' names can be found on the list of Vuelta a España record holders, each with a unique record and significant achievement. Tony Rominger is one of those incredible record holders; he is a Swiss former professional cyclist who holds the record for the most individual time trial victories in the Vuelta a Espaa's history. Tony Rominger won more than 13 individual stages between 1992 and 1996, owing to his exceptional abilities in time-trialling, climbing, and recuperation. Furthermore, Tony won the Vuelta a España in 1992, 1993, and 1994. He held the record for the most Vuelta a España wins until 2005, when Roberto Heras broke it.
Jaja holds the most points classification victories
Laurent Jalabert, nicknamed "Jaja," was a dominant rider in the second half of the 1990s. Between 1995 and 1999, he won numerous one-day and stage races. Jalabert had the most points classification wins in Vuelta and won the general classification, as well as the points and climbers' competitions, in 1995.
He was a quick finisher who, early in his career, mixed it up with the elbow-bashing sprint finishers. Thanks to these exceptional skills, he is among only five riders to have won the points classification in all three grand tours. Laurent Jalabert, dominated Spanish stage races for many years.
Most days as a leader
Alex Zülle is another iconic Vuelta record holder. He is one of the most successful riders in the history of the Vuelta a España who has outperformed. He won the general classification in two consecutive years, 1996 and 1997, and finished second in the 1995 Vuelta. During the 1990s Vuelta, Alex Zülle and his teammate Laurent Jalabert were a constant threat to other teams, winning stages, the overall classification, and the points jersey alternately. Alex Zulle holds the record with his nearly 48 days of leadership performance in the Vuelta a España.
Alex Zülle, ONCE 1993
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