Vuelta a España chaos: Crashes, tacks, fan videos determining the results and threat of snow

It's not been an easy weekend for the organisers

Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It all sounded like a wonderful idea at first: the Vuelta a España having its Gran Salida in Barcelona, one of the world's most-visited cities. 

The opening weekend, however, has been anything but wonderful. Stage one's opening team time trial was described as "dangerous" and "ridiculous" by defending champion Remco Evenepoel who had to ride the 14.8km in near-darkness, while other riders complained about riding back to their team buses without lights on their bike and through busy traffic.

Organisers Unipublic and ASO were hoping that stage two would pass off without incident, but the wet weather worsened and there were yet more talking points that had very little to do with the actual racing that was won by Lotto-Dstny's Andreas Kron.

On the descent of the day's main climb, the Coll d'Estenalles, around 15 riders suffered punctures with tacks apparently on the road. Evenepoel and Geraint Thomas were among the victims, and at the finish UAE-Team Emirates' Juan Ayuso launched a scathing assessment of the perpetrators.

"It's been a pretty complicated day, I think there have been a lot of punctures," the 20-year-old and one of the favourites for the overall win said. "In part because we have low pressure [in the tyres] and therefore it's easier to puncture, but also because someone has decided to put tacks before a corner.

"I want to say thank you to this person for being an idiot and I wish the same thing happens to him what he wished for us. I wish him worse."

Shortly after the punctures, the rain returned, and 30km from the line Thomas suffered his second incident of the day, crashing on a roundabout with fellow favourite Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma. Both remounted their bikes and caught the peloton again, but it capped off a stressful weekend for Thomas who lost one of his key helpers, Laurens De Plus, to a crash on stage one.

"I'm OK," Thomas said afterwards. "It was an unfortunate fall on my knee, but luckily it's OK. Roglič and UAE fell right in front of me. The boys knew I had fallen and they stayed with me."

With the rain forcing the organisers to take the general classification at 9km to go, the only two things that the finish at Montjüic would determine was the stage winner and the recipients of the bonus seconds awarded to the top three finishers.

It appeared, however, that there was no official timekeeping at the top of Montjuïc and video footage appeared on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing the race jury watching videos on the smartphones of spectators to determine who claimed the six, four and two bonus seconds.

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Things may not improve on stage three. The race heads north into the Principality of Andorra, and towards a summit finish at Arinsal.

Just a few days ago, temperatures in the Pyrenees were approaching 40°C, but there has been a drastic change of weather in the Iberian peninsula and temperatures have dropped by as much as 20°C with snow even falling on the highest peaks.

When the race rides up to Arinsal on Monday afternoon, the forecast predicts light rain and temperatures of 7°C; strong winds, however, will make it feel like 2°C. Some weather forecasts also predicting the possibility of snow at around 2,000m, with the finish topping out at just over 1,900m above sea level.

It's been a crazy first few days and the carnage may not be over yet.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.