Yates chasing rare defence, home riders' winless run - Vuelta a Espana in Opta facts

As Simon Yates looks to defend the red jersey, we look at the best facts surrounding the 2019 Vuelta a Espana.
As Simon Yates looks to defend the red jersey, we look at the best facts surrounding the 2019 Vuelta a Espana.

The final Grand Tour race of 2019 starts on Saturday when the Vuelta a Espana gets off and running.

A 13.4 kilometre team time trial in Torrevieja starting at its famous salt lakes kicks off the 74th edition of the Vuelta, which will cover 3290.7kms and take in 57 summits.

Simon Yates will be looking to do what no rider has done since 2005 and retain the title, but sadly Richard Carapaz's chances of joining an exclusive group of riders to win both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta were ended by a crash in training on Sunday.

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Here we look at the best Opta facts ahead of the fight for the red jersey.

- British riders have won the last two editions of the Vuelta (Chris Froome in 2017 then Yates in 2018), after winning only one of the first 71 (Froome in 2011 after the annulation of Juan Jose Cobo's win).

- Spanish riders are winless in the last four editions of the Vuelta, their second-longest run without a win in their home Grand Tour after 1992-1997 (6). The last Spaniard to win La Vuelta was Alberto Contador in 2014.

- If a non-European rider wins the Vuelta, it would be the first year in history that no rider from Europe has won any of the three Grand Tours.

- Yates is the first title holder of La Vuelta to appear in the following edition since Froome in 2012 (after the annulation of Cobo's win).

- Only three riders have previously achieved the Giro/Vuelta double: Eddy Merckx (1973), Giovanni Battaglin (1981) and Contador (2008).

- Alejandro Valverde has finished on the Vuelta podium six times in 12 appearances (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014), a record in the race alongside Roberto Heras.

- This will be Valverde's 13th participation in the Vuelta, more than any other active rider. Only Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (15), Eduardo Chozas (14) and Inigo Cuesta (14) have appeared more in the history of the race.

- Valverde has won the points classification in four of the last seven editions of the Vuelta (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018) and could be the first rider to win the green jersey five times (currently level with Sean Kelly and Laurent Jalabert).

- Primoz Roglic will make his Vuelta debut after achieving his first Grand Tour podium in Giro d'Italia 2019 (3rd). He has won at least one stage in each of his first four Grand Tours (three in Giro and two in the Tour de France).

- Caleb Ewan can become the fourth rider to win a stage at each Grand Tour in a calendar year after Miguel Poblet (1956), Pierino Baffi (1958) and Alessandro Petacchi (2003). He has won at least one stage in four of his five appearances in Grand Tours.

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