Tour of the Basque Country

The Tour of the Basque Country (Officially: Itzulia Basque Country)[1] 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 are not 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%.[2]

Tour of the Basque Country
2024 Tour of the Basque Country
Race details
RegionSpanish Basque Country
English nameTour of the Basque Country
Local name(s)
  • Vuelta al País Vasco (in Spanish)
  • Euskal Herriko itzulia (in Basque)
CompetitionUCI World Tour
TypeStage race
Web Edit this at Wikidata
First edition1924 (1924)
Editions63 (as of 2024)
First winner Francis Pélissier (FRA)
Most wins
Most recent Juan Ayuso (ESP)

History edit

The original Tour of the Basque Country had a troubled history, with eight editions contested between 1924 and 1935, before the Spanish Civil War seemingly wiped it out for good. One of these early editions is commentated on in Ernest Hemingway's 1926 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 five 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 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2022, the race has a counterpart in the UCI Women's World Tour - the Itzulia Women.

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
No race
1935   Italy Gino Bartali
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
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[4]   Spain Ion Izagirre Astana
2020 No race due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021[5]   Slovenia Primož Roglič Team Jumbo–Visma
2022[6]   Colombia Daniel Martínez Ineos Grenadiers
2023   Denmark Jonas Vingegaard Team Jumbo–Visma
2024   Spain Juan Ayuso UAE Team Emirates

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
  Primož Roglič  (SVN) 5

Wins per country edit

Wins Country
28   Spain
7   Italy
5   Switzerland
4   France
3   Belgium
2   Colombia
1   Denmark
  United States

References edit

  1. ^ Spanish: Vuelta al País Vasco, Basque: Euskal Herriko Itzulia
  2. ^ Middendorp, Koen. "Voorbeschouwing: Ronde van Het Baskenland 2019". Wieleflirts. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Itzulia Basque Country past winners 1924 to 2021". 31 March 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  4. ^ Ryan, Barry (13 April 2019). "Tour of the Basque Country 2019: Stage 6 Results". Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Primoz Roglic wins Itzulia Basque Country". 10 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  6. ^ Fletcher, Patrick (9 April 2022). "Daniel Martínez wins Itzulia Basque Country". Retrieved 12 April 2022.

External links edit