- There will be seven stages and an all-new rest day mid-race
- The 14.4 km individual time trial and the final at Alto Colorado will be decisive
- For the second year in a row the race will be an international event, featuring some of the best riders and teams on the starting lines between January 21st and 28th
- In just one year the race has become the definitive showcase for Argentine and Latin American cyclists
After more than three decades as part of the Argentine national calendar, in 2017 the Vuelta a San Juan was promoted to the international series. There have been more than three decades of success and achievements, a long time during which this Argentine province, led by Pedal Club Olimpia, managed to become the mecca for cycling in this country. Furthermore, when Sergio Uñac was elected to the highest levels of the San Juan government, he gave a new impetus to the race, transforming it into an international event.
When the first edition of the Vuelta a San Juan was held in Argentina in 1982, Bernard Hinault was preparing his strategy for what would be his fourth triumph in the Tour de France; he also won his second Giro that year.
Although the following year a Chilean rider, Víctor Caro claimed victory, Argentinians have always dominated this race. Alberto Clemente Bravo, winner of three editions - 1989, 1991 and1992 - was the first great “super-champion” of this test, however more recently Laureano Rosas managed to tie this record with the same number of wins - 2014, 2015 and 2016 - consecutively.
However last year, for the 35th edition of the Vuelta a San Juan, Argentines and South Americans in general got to go up against some of the best cyclists on the planet. It was a dream come true for the good old trusty alumni of the San Juan race, to see their world class idols in this specialty, a dream which became reality thanks to the provincial government and the hard work of Jorge Chica, Secretary of Sports.
The final victory went to Bauke Mollema, and World Tour teams dominated all of the stages; however, Ricardo Escuela and Laureano Rosas raced right along undaunted and hung in there with the best of the pros in the world class peloton, finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the general classification.
With this new international status, La Vuelta a San Juan has become the best possible launch for new generations of Argentine and South American riders, who dream of being part of this peloton, well aware that the event is a unique occasion that draws international attention.
Like last year, la Vuelta a San Juan 2018 will be a UCI category 2.1 race. In the America Tour, or the UCI’s American Calendar, the only other races of this status are the new Colombia Oro y Paz and the Tour of Alberta.
The Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic are Hors Catégorie (HC); the Tour of California and the one-day classics in Québec and Montreal make up a part of the World Tour. However lately the Vuelta a San Juan has been breaking out, and in 2018 the race will feature seven teams from the maximum league, making it harder and harder to tell the difference between these events.
For its second year on the international scene in 2018, the Vuelta a San Juan will feature one more day than its 35th edition. Of course, there will still be seven stages, because the additional day will serve as a much needed rest day for the riders. This way San Juan expresses modernization and a vision for the future, because there is a new trend towards a compact, more spectacular type of cycling, but there is also a need to make races less punishing.
When all is said and done the strongest rider will win, but the differences will be evident as usual in the 3rd stage time trial and the arrival at Alto Colorado in the 5th stage. There will be something for everyone in this race, sprinters as well as any brave contenders eager to grab the spotlight. The total distance is similar to last year’s: 959.4 km in 2018 compared to 930 km in the last edition; the individual time trial is also a bit longer: 14.4 km instead of the 11.9 km in 2017.
As for mountains, in 2018 there will be 14 of them to climb, compared to 9 in the last edition, although only Alto Colorado, with its altitude of 2565 m will provide an idea of the final outcome. Considering how tight the final general classification was last year – Mollema had a mere 14” advantage on Óscar Sevilla, 16” on Rodolfo Torres, 20” on Ricardo Escuela and 26” on Rui Costa - the bonuses will also be decisive this year: 10, 6 and 4 seconds on the intermediate finish line and 3, 2 and 1 second for each sprint finish. And, except for the time trial, there will be two of these every day.
Vincenzo Nibali, Fernando Gaviria and Rafal Majka will be just some of the stars appearing in the San Juan race, which will feature a peloton made up of 26 teams: 7 World Tour, 5 Professionals, 7 Continentals and 7 National selections. With this route and this participation, the event is guaranteed to be a success.