There are tournaments in every sport which are regarded as the most prestigious for that sport. Tennis has Grand Slams, football has the World Cup and the Champions League, the NFL has the Super Bowl and so on and so forth.
In cycling, the Grand Tours are the most prestigious tournaments which a cycling team can attend and if they are good enough, win. There are three Grand Tours, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, also known as La Vuelta. Here is more about cycling’s most prestigious tournaments.
The Tour de France – The Biggest Cycling Tournament
The Tour de France is what every professional cycling team wants to win. Some of the most athletic performances were witnessed at the Tour and cyclists from all over the world converge to attempt and win it. Founded in 1903, it has been around for 118 years. During that time, there were 108 editions of the Tour, with only 10 being skipped.
The Tour has changed over its century and a little more of existence, but the modern variant has 21 stages. A stage usually lasts a day. The Tour always finishes at the Champs-Elysees, an iconic avenue in Paris, France, or rather, that was the finishing stage since 1975. Multiple times over the years, the Tour started outside of France, in countries such as Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, the UK and even Denmark.
The Tour is one of the most popular tournaments in the world and certainly the most popular cycling tournament, but not the only important one.
La Vuelta – The Vuelta a España – Another Amazing Tour
La Vuelta or the Tour of Spain, is a Grand Tour in Spain, founded in 1935. It has had 75 editions up until today. Like the Tour de France, the modern Vuelta has 21 stages and 23 days of competition. Two of those days are rest days. The Vuelta also had its tour start abroad, in Portugal, France and the Netherlands. The Vuelta also passed through other countries, like Andorra and Belgium.
The Vuelta ends in Madrid, the capital, as does the Tour de France. The Grand Tours are similar in terms of organization. They are different because the cyclists ride under different weather conditions, each tour having its own month. The Vuelta is in August and September, which is really hot in Spain.
The Giro d’Italia – The Italian Grand Tour
With the Giro, the list of Grand Tours is complete. The Giro was founded in 1909 and has been held 104 times since then. It is a multi-stage race just like the other two Tours, and just like the other two, it is a 21 stage race with 23 or 24 days, depending on how many rest days are appointed. The Giro is different to the other two tours because it has a lot of uphill cycling through the Dolomites and the Alps, hence the extra rest day.
The Giro is the first Grand Tour in the schedule, being in May/June, followed by the Tour de France which is in June/July and the Vuelta which is in August/September.
The Grand Tour Similarities
The Grand Tours have a couple of things in common, namely the number of stages and race days. The second thing they have in common is that the leader, the rider with the lowest cumulative time, gets to wear the leader jersey. The Tour’s leader jersey color is yellow, the Vuelta’s is red and the Giro’s is pink.
The Grand Tours are the most anticipated and covered tournaments in cycling so if any of them is currently being contested, make sure to tune in.