Manual for Speed was created for one purpose: to follow the gracile herd of the pro peloton around the world as they make their way over above-category mountains, through ancient and narrow city streets, and across vast empty planes in their quest for social-evolutionary transcendence. Professional Road Racing is a spectacle like no other, and while we count ourselves as one of the world’s foremost collectors and commentators of this experience, we have long been aware of a notable gap in our personal history: we have yet to attend the Vuelta a España.
All of our excuses for missing the race are boring and stupid, most of which have to do with the limits of time and resources. But in the early winter of 2017 we resolved to take a stand; this year would be different, this year we’d visit Spain and its fabled tour, this year we’d see the sights and report back to you, dear reader, on the interesting, remarkable, and outstanding incidents we’d observe during our expedition.
While we haven’t yet physically participated in the Vuelta spectacle, as invested cycling fans and informed observers over the years we’ve come to learn enough about the race to heighten our interest—if this race was boring, stupid, and tedious we wouldn’t waste our time, we’re not in the business of ticking a box just because a box is waiting to be ticked. No, spend a little time learning about the history of the Vuelta and you’ll quickly realize that this race is the redheaded stepchild of the Grand Tour family. That’s a compliment, by the way. With Le Tour being the old, esteemed, and stalwart leader of the pack and the Giro being the second eldest and the party boy, the Vuelta happily takes up the position of misfit and antagonist.
The race assumes its pedigree with casual flippancy, and those who participate assume a ride-at-your-own-peril mentality. This being the last of the season’s grand tours, the TDF-obsessed favorites in the pro peloton have already begun to lose form, and a frothing rabble of up-and-comers and ne’er-do-wells begin nipping at their heels. For those in the peloton beleaguered by bad luck in the year so far, the Vuelta is a chance at redemption, a race with results for the taking to turn around otherwise unremarkable seasons.
“There is no shortage of hunger in this race, and as such strategies and calculations are replaced with risky attacks, irrational choices, and unexpected moves as the riders are driven towards the finish line by the hounds of desperation. It is these volatile and unexpected elements that draw us to the Vuelta like moths to a flame.”
While the Vuelta’s prestige and standing attract the world’s top teams, recently race organizers have made it a point to invite relatively unknown teams to participate. Teams yet to prove themselves at such a high level of competition, teams that could very well be making their first ever Grand Tour appearance, teams like Colombian Postebone. Seemingly out of their depth, riders on these teams are thrust into the global cycling spotlight—naturally, this puts them on the hunt for any opportunity to make a name for themselves. Talk about adding fuel to the fire! As part of our 2017 Vuelta coverage, Manual for Speed will have special editorial sections to introduce you to these little known upstarts.
“The Vuelta is a last chance, go for broke, desperate, new-meets-old-meets-possible-meets-heartbreak grand tour during the bright hot death throes of a Spanish summer. Why haven’t we been here before?!”