Tour of the Basque Country

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Tour of the Basque Country
Tour of the Basque Country logo.svg
Race details
DateEarly-April
RegionSpanish Basque Country
English nameTour of the Basque Country
Local name(s)
  • Vuelta al País Vasco (in Spanish)
  • Euskal Herriko itzulia (in Basque)
DisciplineRoad
CompetitionUCI World Tour
TypeStage race
Web sitewww.itzulia.eus Edit this at Wikidata
History
First edition1924 (1924)
Editions60 (as of 2021)
First winner Francis Pélissier (FRA)
Most wins
Most recent Primož Roglič (SLO)

The Tour of the Basque Country (Officially: Itzulia Basque Country, Spanish: Vuelta al País Vasco, Basque: Euskal Herriko Itzulia) is an annual road cycling stage race held in the Spanish Basque Country in April. It is one of the races that make up the UCI World Tour calendar. As the Basque Country is a mountainous area, there are few flat stages, and thus the event favors those who are strong climbers. The race is characterized by its short stages, rarely exceeding 200 km, and steep ascents. While the ascents featured in the race aren't particularly high compared to other stage races, they are among the steepest seen in professional cycling, some having sections with gradients reaching well above 20%.[1]

History[edit]

The original Tour of the Basque Country had a troubled history, with 8 editions contested between 1924 and 1935, before the civil war seemingly wiped it out for good. One of these early editions is commentated on in Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.

In 1952, the Eibar Cycling Club (erstwhile backers of Spain's first national stage race, the pre-Vuelta a España Gran Premio República) launched a new 3-day event called Gran Premio de la Bicicleta Eibarresa to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Former French national champion Louis Caput took the inaugural edition.

In 1969, organizers opted to promote the race (by then 5 stages long) as IX Vuelta al País Vasco - XVIII Bicicleta Eibarresa, effectively merging the Bicicleta Eibarresa into a reborn Tour of the Basque Country. However, the palmares of the Bicicleta Eibarresa (featuring Vuelta a España winners Jesús Loroño and Rolf Wolfshohl) is not recognized as part of the Tour of the Basque Country's history. The Eibar Cycling Club would relinquish control of the competition following the 1973 edition, while retaining the rights to the Bicicleta Eibarresa name, which has sporadically been reactivated to help promote other, lower ranked events.

The first winner of the Tour of the Basque Country was Francis Pélissier from France, while the first winner of the 'modern' Tour (1969) was Jacques Anquetil, also of France. The most successful riders in the history of the Tour are Spain's José Antonio González, who won the race four times in 1972, 1975, 1977 and 1978, and Spain's Alberto Contador, who also won the race four times in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2016. Since its revival in 1969, it has been held every year with the exception of during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The winner traditionally dons a basque beret on the podium.

Winners[edit]

Year Country Rider Team
1924  France Francis Pélissier
1925  Belgium Auguste Verdyck
1926  Luxembourg Nicolas Frantz
1927  France Victor Fontan
1928  Belgium Maurice De Waele
1929  Belgium Maurice De Waele
1930  Spain Mariano Cañardo
1931–
1934
No race
1935  Italy Gino Bartali
1936–
1968
No race
1969  France Jacques Anquetil
1970  Spain Luis Pedro Santamarina
1971  Spain Luis Ocaña
1972  Spain José Antonio González
1973  Spain Luis Ocaña
1974  Spain Miguel María Lasa
1975  Spain José Antonio González
1976  Italy Gianbattista Baronchelli
1977  Spain José Antonio González
1978  Spain José Antonio González
1979  Italy Giovanni Battaglin
1980  Spain Alberto Fernández
1981  Italy Silvano Contini
1982  Spain José Luis Laguía Reynolds
1983  Spain Julián Gorospe Reynolds
1984  Ireland Sean Kelly Skil–Reydel–Sem–Mavic
1985  Spain Pello Ruiz Cabestany Seat–Orbea
1986  Ireland Sean Kelly Kas
1987  Ireland Sean Kelly Kas
1988  Netherlands Erik Breukink Panasonic–Isostar–Colnago–Agu
1989  Ireland Stephen Roche Fagor–MBK
1990  Spain Julián Gorospe Banesto
1991  Italy Claudio Chiappucci Carrera Jeans–Tassoni
1992   Switzerland Tony Rominger CLAS–Cajastur
1993   Switzerland Tony Rominger CLAS–Cajastur
1994   Switzerland Tony Rominger Mapei–CLAS
1995   Switzerland Alex Zülle ONCE
1996  Italy Francesco Casagrande Saeco–AS Juvenes San Marino
1997   Switzerland Alex Zülle ONCE
1998  Spain Íñigo Cuesta ONCE
1999  France Laurent Jalabert ONCE–Deutsche Bank
2000  Germany Andreas Klöden Team Telekom
2001  Lithuania Raimondas Rumšas Fassa Bortolo
2002  Spain Aitor Osa iBanesto.com
2003  Spain Iban Mayo Euskaltel–Euskadi
2004  Russia Denis Menchov Illes Balears–Banesto
2005  Italy Danilo Di Luca Liquigas–Bianchi
2006  Spain José Ángel Gómez Marchante Saunier Duval–Prodir
2007  Spain Juan José Cobo Saunier Duval–Prodir
2008  Spain Alberto Contador Astana
2009  Spain Alberto Contador Astana
2010  United States Chris Horner Team RadioShack
2011  Germany Andreas Klöden Team RadioShack
2012  Spain Samuel Sánchez Euskaltel–Euskadi
2013  Colombia Nairo Quintana Movistar Team
2014  Spain Alberto Contador Tinkoff–Saxo
2015  Spain Joaquim Rodríguez Team Katusha
2016  Spain Alberto Contador Tinkoff
2017  Spain Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2018  Slovenia Primož Roglič LottoNL–Jumbo
2019  Spain Ion Izagirre Astana
2020 No race due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021  Slovenia Primož Roglič Team Jumbo–Visma

Multiple winners[edit]

Wins Rider Editions
4  José Antonio González (ESP) 1972, 1975, 1977, 1978
 Alberto Contador (ESP) 2008, 2009, 2015, 2016
3  Sean Kelly (IRL) 1984, 1986, 1987
 Tony Rominger (SUI) 1992, 1993, 1994
2  Maurice Dewaele (BEL) 1928, 1929
 Luis Ocaña (ESP) 1971, 1973
 Julián Gorospe (ESP) 1983, 1990
 Alex Zülle (SUI) 1995, 1997
 Andreas Klöden (GER) 2000, 2011
 Primož Roglič (SLO) 2018, 2021

Most stage wins[edit]

# Rider Stage wins
1  Domingo Perurena (ESP) 11
 Seán Kelly (IRL) 11
3  Laurent Jalabert (FRA) 9
4  Tony Rominger (SUI) 8
 Samuel Sánchez (ESP) 8
6  Alberto Contador (ESP) 7
7  Miguel María Lasa (ESP) 6
 Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) 6
 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 6
9  José Antonio González Linares (ESP) 5
 Stefano Zanini (ITA) 5

References[edit]

  1. ^ Middendorp, Koen. "Voorbeschouwing: Ronde van Het Baskenland 2019". Wieleflirts. Retrieved 12 April 2019.

External links[edit]