28th Vuelta a Espana 1973

 
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian

 

 

 

 

A Springtime Vuelta/Giro Double: MERCKX!

For years the promoters of the Vuelta a Espana had tried to attract superstar Eddy Merckx.  Since the Vuelta victory was missing from Merckx’s Grand Tour victories, the generous offer from the promoters brought Merckx to Spain. 

The race was hyped as a showdown between Merckx and Spanish star Luis Ocana.  Merckx started strong by winning the 5 km prologue in Calpe, but the race didn’t begin until the three category 1 climbs of stage 16 from Torrelavega to Miranda.  

With a course almost complete absence of hard mountains, stage 16 was critical to Ocana’s hopes for the overall victory.  The fiery Spanish climber attacked early on the stage and only Merckx and Frenchman Bernard Thevenet could follow.  On the climb of the Puerto de Orduña Ocana escaped again and went over the summit alone, 27” ahead Merckx and Thevenet. 

However, the 27 kilometers between the summit and the finish in Miranda allowed Merckx and Thevenet to bridge the gap to Ocana.  The Belgian sprinted to the stage win and crushed the Spaniard’s chances at the overall victory.

At the finish in San Sebastian Eddy Merckx gained his missing Vuelta a Espana victory.  The Belgian also had 6 stage wins and easily won the Points Classification.  Merckx, 2nd placed Luis Ocana and 3rd placed Bernard Thevenet made up one of the best podiums in the history of Vuelta a Espana.  

La Casera’s Jose-Luis Abilleira was the winner in the Grand Prix of the Mountains with 97 points.  

SPECIAL NOTE 1: With the Vuelta victory, Merckx became only the third rider, after Frenchman Jacques Anquetil and Italian Felice Gimondi, to win all three Grand National Tours. 

SPECIAL NOTE 2: When the Vuelta ended on May 13th Merckx went directly to Italy for the Giro d’Italia (starting May 18th).  He will be the first rider in history to win a very difficult springtime Vuelta/Giro double in the same year. 

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue Calpe, 5 km ITT

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 1 Calpe-Murcia, 187 km

Peter Nassen (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 2 Murcia-Albacete, 156 km

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Stage 3 Albacete-Alcazar de San Juan, 146 km

Peter Nassen (Bel)

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Stage 4 Alcazar de San Juan-Cuenca, 169 km

Jos Deschoenmaecker (Bel)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 5 Cuenca-Teruel, 191 km

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 6a Teruel-Puebla de Farnals, 150 km

Roger Swerts (Bel)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 6b Puebla de Farnals, 5 km TTT

MOLTENI

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 7 Playa de Farnals-Castellon, 165 km

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 8 Castellin-Calafell, 245 km

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 9a Calafell-Barcelona, 80 km

Juan-Manuel Santisteban (Spa)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 9b Montjuich, 37.9 km

Jacques Esclassan (Fra)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 10 Barcelona-Ampuriabrava, 171 km

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Jose Pesarrodona (Spa)

Stage 11 Ampuriabrava-Manresa, 225 km

Bernard Thevenet (Fra)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 12 Manresa-Zaragoza, 259 km

Gerben Karstens (Hol)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 13 Mallen-Irache, 175 km

Domingo Perurena (Spa)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 14 Irache-Bilbao, 182 km

Juan Zurano (Spa)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 15a Bilbao-Torrelavega, 154 km

Eddy Peelman (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 15b Torrelavega, 17.4 km ITT

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 16 Torrelavega-Miranda, 203 km

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 17a Miranda de Ebro-Tolosa, 127 km

Eddy Peelman (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Stage 17b Hernani-San Sebastian, 10.5 km

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

Eddy Merckx (Bel)

 

BEST CLIMBER PRIZE

Jose-Luis Abilleira (Spa)
 

POINT'S COMPETITION

Eddy Merckx (Bel)


VaE April 26 - May 13, 1973
3,060.8 km

1. Eddy MERCKX (Bel) 84h40'50"

2. Luis Ocana (Spa) +3'46"

3. Bernard Thevenet (Fra) +4'16"

Starters: 80
Finishers: 62
Average Speed: 36.098 km/h

 

 

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