Category Cycling News
volta a catalunya

How to Get a Taste of This Great Cycle Race

The Volta a Catalunya. One of the oldest road bicycle races in the world. A race that criss-crosses one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Could you cycle the Volta?

History of the Volta

The Volta a Catalunya, also called the Vuelta a Cataluña, was first held in 1911. Only the Tour de France, Tour of Belgium, and Giro d’Italia are older road cycle races that are still going strong.

Now a seven-day event, the first Volta was held over three days, between 6th and 8th January 1911. That first race saw competitors cycle a total of 365 kilometres. 22 riders finished the race, with the winning cyclist, Sebastián Masdeu, taking the first and third stages and cycling at an average of 23 km/h over the race.

The race has had a chequered existence. It was suspended during World War I, and the Spanish Civil War. It did, however, continue during World War II.

It is now part of the UCI World Tour, and has been raced at various times of the year, though is now usually held in March.

In 2021, the 100th Volta took place. The race now covers more than 1,000 kilometres, with seven stages over the seven days. The winner was Adam Yates of Great Britain, who completed the race in a time of 26 hours, 16 minutes, and 41 seconds, only 45 seconds ahead of his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Richie Porte. To put his achievement into perspective, Yates finished 54 minutes ahead of Chris Froome, who has won the Tour de France four times.

Volta a Catalunya – The Route

So, could you cycle the Volta? We’ve got to tell you, it’s a tough route that gives you a real taste of the variety of this part of Spain. The cyclists hit the coast and rural plains, bike through city streets, and pass by some of Spain’s most iconic landmarks.

The route is never quite the same from year to year, though it has now started in Calella for nine years running. This first stage includes intermediate sprints, before climbing to the port of Les Guilleries.

Stage 2 is the shortest of all the stages, a time trial of only 18.5 kilometres. This is followed by the third-day stage, the longest in the race at more than 200 kilometres, with the tough ascent to Vallter 2000 included.

On the fourth stage, the cyclists remain in the Pyrenees, riding from Ripoll to Port Aine.

On Stage 5, the cyclists travel southeast, away from the Pyrenees. But the mountains aren’t over for the racers. The Mountain of Montserrat is included in this section.

The sixth day doesn’t include huge mountain sections, but, nonetheless, is an undulating ride with many difficult hills to climb and descend.

Then, finally, on day seven, the riders finish in Barcelona. But still, the mountain rides have not ended. This stage included six climbs of the mountain of Montjucic.

Is It Time for a Taste of the Volta a Catalunya?

The gruelling Volta route is one that only the most experienced cyclist should attempt. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have a taste of the Volta.

From our cycle tours in Barcelona, to our guided Girona cycling tour, to our coastal vineyard tour, you’ll cycle on roads covered by the greats in cycling on the Volta a Catalunya.

Most of our cycle tours are perfect for beginners and families, though if you want something a little more demanding, we would be happy to help you create your own adventure and discover Catalonia your way – perhaps to include some of the best mountain climbs in Catalonia?

What are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to follow the tyre tracks of the world’s greatest ever cyclists, along the course of one of the world’s greatest cycle road races?

Get in touch with Bicilona today, and let us show you why cyclists of all ages and levels of experience return to us year after year.