The history of Vuelta a San Juan
We travel to the last days of October 1981 when our native soil gave birth to this cycling competition. The expected opening was held on December 1 of that very year. Time passed, and this race became the people’s competition. It was called “Vuelta Ciclista a San Juan”.
The initiative to create a cycling competition was shaped mainly by four men. With many conversations in between, Vicente Tapia, Rodolfo Becerra, Hugo Rodríguez and Néstor Andrés Páez took the first step and began to plan the race in their minds. Tapia and Becerra were Pedal Club Olimpia officers, a leader cycling club from San Juan, while Rodriguez and Paéz were chief officers in the Sport section of LV1 Radio Colón, one of the historical radio broadcast of the province. Back then, the idea was something like: “instead of investing our efforts in many races, let’s join them into one Tour”.
In that way, this cycling race started to be shaped, the same one that between January 26 and February 2, 2020 celebrated its 38th edition. This race was the first UCI Pro Series competition of the International Cycling Union. During the last edition, the cyclist Remco Evenepoel -Deceuninck Quick Step- won the first place in the general individual classification. This position was one of the most important victories that the 20-year-old Belgium cyclist has achieved till now.
Regarding previous winners, we should first go back to 2017. When Vuelta a San Juan debuted in the UCI international calendar, the Dutch Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo) won the general classification during the 35th edition. The following year, in 2018, the Spanish Óscar Sevilla (Medellín) was the 36th-edition best biker. Then, in the 37th edition, San Juan enjoyed an outstanding winner, Colombian Winner Anacona (Movistar Team), who managed to be ranked in the very best position.
We can say that Vuelta a San Juan was born as the most recognized competitions around the world did. Its first steps are similar to Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. In these cycling races, the media was also part of the initial idea, preparation and first steps. The newspaper L’Equipe had a key participation for the Tour to be held, as well as La Gazzetta regarding the Giro. It’s important to say that we have only spotted the similarities during the origins of the cycling competitions mentioned above.
Now, we are getting closer to the 39th edition. Vuelta a San Juan original format has changed in many opportunities. Years before, it began with ten stages and then, due to economic reasons, it was shortened to seven. However, without any doubts, this cycling competition is where all Latin American cyclists dream to ride and win. Since 2017, this sport challenge has also been open to competitors from other nationalities and continents. It’s the case of UCI World Teams squads, for instance. In 2017, we hosted four of the world’s best teams: Quick-Step Floors, Bahrain Merida, UAE Team Emirates and Trek – Segafredo. The following year, BORA – hansgrohe, Movistar Team and Lotto Soudal joined the previous ones. In the 2019 World Tour, we received pleasant news: Dimensión Data visited us. It was the first time that an African team came to San Juan. Finally, during the last edition, the province had the chance to see for the first time the French team Cofidis and enjoyed Israel Academy again, now as a World Tour team. Along with the above-mentioned teams, during all the editions as a UCI calendar competition, there were other squads from different categories that brought their own essence to this incredible sport event, the most important one in Argentina.
Vuelta a San Juan is not a simple cycling competition, it’s an event that lives in the hearts of its people for four decades. It’s the only city in the country where we live and breathe cycling. Each January, thousands and thousands of families plan their vacations based on the week Vuelta a San Juan will be held. It’s a tradition that people have in San Juan. Though local fans follow the cycling races, events and news during the whole year, Vuelta is the most special moment of the year. Both children and adults highly enjoy all the attractions around this sport competition. San Juan’s people and its media have a crucial role in the prestige that Vuelta has achieved and will continue having.
In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating the 39 years of Vuelta a San Juan. And as time goes by, this high-level cycling and passionate competition that started as an idea from a small group of people is now a worldly-recognized reality. From its creation, each government on duty has supported Vuelta’s organization, but there was a turning point. In 2017, the “people’s competition” reached a high-level status -2.1 score- thanks to Sergio Uñac, the San Juan governor. Vuelta’s incorporation to the UCI calendar was a key event that was celebrated in every part of the province. This was another case of the Sport Revolution led by Uñac since his governing role began in December 2015. In our province, sport is a state policy and this is a proof of this belief.
Till now, 26 riders have the honor to claim: “I won Vuelta, I became a champion in San Juan”. In fact, this is a very small number of riders who have the privilege to win at least one title in the most important cycling race of Argentina and South America. The first winner of Vuelta was Eduardo Trillini from Buenos Aires (1981). During the following season, a Chilean competitor was the first foreigner to win the best position in the ranking. He was Víctor Caro (1982). The province had to wait until the third edition to see a San Juan rider among the winners. It was in 1983 when Pedro Chirino won the general classification. Then, Ramón Sánchez won twice the competition in 1985 and 1986. Daniel Castro (1987) and Luis Ministro Moyano (1988) were the winners of the subsequent editions. At the end of the ‘80s, it started Alberto Bravo’s reign, winning Vuelta in 1989, 1991 and 1992 (in 1990, the victory was taken by Javier Argonz). His three titles position Bravo as one of the two best winners of Vuelta. In the following seasons, 1993 and 1994, Juan Agüero took the victory. Then, many winners came: David Kenig (1995), Raúl Ruarte (1996), Eduardo Mulet (1997), Gonzalo Salas (1998) and Gustavo Toledo (1999). The 2000 edition was not held due to economic reasons, but Edgardo Simón managed to be the winner in the new century as he took the victory of 2001 and 2002 competitions. Then, it was the turn of Oscar Villalobo, popularly known as “the son of the wind” due to the speed he reached on the bike. He was the one to win twice in 2003 and 2004. Then, Luciano Montivero won Vuelta in 2005 and 2007. 2006 was the year of Gerardo Fernández, who was also the best rider in 2009. Pedro González won the 2008 edition. Following the chronology, it’s worth saying that between 2010 and 2016, there were three winners: Juan Pablo Dotti (2010 y 2012), Daniel Zamora (2011 y 2013) and Laureano Rosas (2014, 2015 y 2016). The last one, along with Alberto Bravo, lead the ranking with more winning positions of Vuelta (they share the top position having won three Vueltas each), together with the already mentioned winners from the UCI calendar editions.
For this and many other reasons, San Juan has a more than strong sport competition. The audience’s final numbers collected at the end of each edition confirm this. Since the competition joined the international calendar, more than 200 million people from all over the world have followed the Vuelta stages and updates. The competition transmission, plus the work of radio, graphic and online media, allows Vuelta to be seen throughout South America, in more than 50 countries from Europe and Africa, in 16 from Asia, and in almost every part of North America and Oceania. And more and more media began to cover Vuelta transmission. This cycling competition brings together famous enterprises, such as Diario Marca, L’Equipe, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Agencia F, A Bola, Cycling News, Diario de Cuyo, Clarín, La Nación, Diario As, Mundo Deportivo, Pro Cycling, among others.
Another important fact took place on October 17, 2019. The thing was that, on that date, UCI confirmed on its official web page that Vuelta a San Juan got a category promotion. Its category went from 2.1 to UCI Pro Series -second global category- and today it’s defined as 2.Pro. Undoubtedly, San Juan guarantees a high-level race.
For the 2020 season, the cycling competition experienced one of its best episodes. The race became the first UCI Pro Series competition in history, the new category assigned by the International Cycling Union.
Vuelta a San Juan opened an international calendar that promised to be though, but it suffered some changes. The Belgium Remco Evenepoel, from Deceuninck – Quick Step squad, won the general individual classification.
The break of COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyone’s plans, and cycling was not an exception. At the end of 2020, there were discussions about the possibility of holding the race in January 2021. An official presentation was even held, but then, a few weeks before the first stage, the final decision was not to continue with the competition. The organization team preferred to take care of the health of all the people in San Juan.
That’s why, after several interminable months, Vuelta a San Juan will meet its excited audience in season 2022.
This Argentine race, one of the best competitions in America, will be one of the first to be held in the international season. Great teams and riders will begin their competitive year in San Juan, a province full of beautiful landscapes and a sport-lover audience.
VUELTA A SAN JUAN 2022 IS GETTING CLOSER!
Miguel Ángel López
Deceuninck – Quick Step
JUAN PABLO DOTTI
JUAN PABLO DOTTI