The third of the famous Grand Tours was established in Spain in 1935 with a goal to emulate long-distance road racing that was greatly popularized by French Tour de France and Italian Giro d’Italia. During the first two decades, this event was interrupted the total of 11 times, some because of Spanish Civil War and World War II, and some because of the bad organization. However after 1955 Vuelta a España became uninterrupted yearly event that attracted attention of the cyclists from all around the world. Today after so many years of tough competition and very hard to complete stages that can span entire Spain to the distances of 4,442 km, Vuelta a España is regarded as one of the most important events on the UCI World Tour calendar. Because of its pointing system, the vast majority of teams that take part of this race are UCI ProTeams, but the organizations of the race regular invite “wild card teams”.
As all other Grand Tours, Vuelta a España has same racing and qualification format. Race is driven over the length of 3 weeks (in modern times, 23 days with 2 days dedicated for rest), and winner of the race is determined by the lowest aggregate time across all stages (during the race, cyclist with best times wears bright red jersey. In addition to the general classification, race also features competitions for points, mountain tracks, combination classification for all-round cyclist and team classification.
During the long history of Vuelta a España, many cyclist from all around the world managed to distinguish themselves by claiming various records. The winner of most individual stages is Delio Rodríguez who was active between 1941 and 1947, while Pedro Delgado won in front of Fabio Parra for the largest winning lead of 35 seconds. The winner of most general classifications is Roberto Heras with 4 wins, Spain won total of 31 times, while the fastest race ever happened in 2001 when average speed of winning cyclist was 42.534 km/h.