The Vuelta a San Juan finally came to a close last Sunday with its traditional circuit around the town. This year’s race, the first since Covid, went down as one of the best. A star-studded field of the world’s best sprinters animated much of the race, but the climbers had plenty to say on the queen stage up the Alto del Colorado – a long, steady climb that finishes at over 2,700 meters. Colombian climber Miguel Ángel López proved to be the best on that day, powering away from his challengers for an impressive solo victory.
There were plenty of surprises in this year’s race with Australian sprinter Sam Welsford upending some of the biggest names in the sport to win two stages, while World Hour Record holder Filippo Ganna finished second overall.
While it was great to see the return of racing after the long winter months, mostly it was just great to be back in Argentina. It is a unique stage for a bike race with passionate fans lining the roads day in and day out.
Check out some of the best images from the final few days of racing:
After four sprint stages at the start of this year’s Vuelta a San Juan, the pack races towards the mountains on the queen stage up the Alto del Colorado. While this climb is only considered the foothills of the Andes Mountains, it still finishes at over 2,700 meters.
The Ineos Grenadiers riders in lockstep formation as the race approaches the mountains.
With nearly 10km remaining, Remco Evenepoel launched a blistering attack. He would later call it “a stupid move” as he was unable to sustain the effort in the increasingly high altitude.
Egan Bernal—who is still coming back from his horrendous crash just over a year ago—opted to ride support for his teammate Ganna on the Alto del Colorado.
Timing his attack perfectly, Miguel Ángel López powered off the front for a convincing solo victory. For the Colombian rider whose contract with the Astana Qazaqstan team was terminated in the off-season, victory here served as a symbolic revenge.
Digging deep, Ganna finished second overall on the summit of Alto del Colorado. While Ganna is not known as a climber, he has often raced well on this climb. Although it is long, the pitches are never steep, allowing a power-based rider like Ganna a rare chance to hang with the climbing specialists.
The peloton rolls past the dramatic hills surrounding the Digue de Ullum just outside of San Juan after the start of stage six.
A local rider from the SEP San Juan team goes for the king of the mountains points on the Punta Negra Digue mid-way through stage six.
The pack races past local fans as they near the finish of stage six.
Australian track specialist Welsford turned the tables on a star-studded field of sprinters here to score an impressive upset victory on stage six.
Popular Argentinian cyclist Maximiliano Richeze brought an end to his professional career with a memorable send off from his long-time colleagues in the peloton before the start of stage seven.
This young fan sports her true colors at stage seven in San Juan.
The pack races around the San Juan ring road on the traditional final stage of the race.
Fans lined the entire 16km loop to cheer on the riders for each of the seven laps.
World champion Remco Evenepoel showed off his rainbow stripes with a strong attack on the final lap. Accompanied by American Quinn Simmons, the two built up a 30-second lead and stayed away for 10km, before finally being caught in the final three kilometers.
With his second win in two days, Welsford proved to be one of the revelations of this year’s Vuelta a San Juan, and will be a force to be reckoned with when racing returns to Europe.
Perhaps starting a dubious new podium tradition, an ecstatic Welsford drinks champagne from his shoe after winning his second stage in San Juan on Sunday.