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The Leading Car of La Vuelta a España as Seen by Race Director Javier Guillén

By We Love Cycling

Out of the vast number of cars needed to service the La Vuelta each year, one vehicle definitely stood out at the starting line in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on 18th August 2022. The brilliant Velvet Red Leading Car, with its distinctive add-ons and custom decals, is like a mobile beacon of order in the tumult that is the famed Spanish Grand Tour. We sat down with the man who knows this car better than anyone to get his perspective on its crucial role in the race – La Vuelta’s Race Director Javier Guillén.

As of now, the fully electric Velvet Red Škoda ENYAQ iV acts as the Leading Car. It is fitted with a modular electrification toolkit (MEB) with three battery-pack options available, ranging from 109 to 225 kW, and boasting a single charge of up to 536 km in one WLTP cycle. This allows the vehicle to operate smoothly and in perfect silence so the Race Director has the best possible “mobile office” environment. But can we overstate the vehicle’s role in the race? “It’s crucial. All the big decisions are always taken in this car. You need to coordinate all this information from the organisers, race commissaires, the team directors, and also the security and police cars. At the end of the day, everybody is looking at you to assume your role and decide correctly – and all of this happens in the car,” says Mr. Guillén.

Škoda ENYAQ iV
The fully electric Velvet Red Škoda ENYAQ iV is the Leading Car at the 2022 La Vuelta. © BaixauliStudio

He further adds: “Every day, I spend about six to seven hours in the car, from the starting line to the finish of each stage, to the hotel at the end. Without this car and the organisational ones, it’s impossible to do La Vuelta.” As we can see, the Leading Car is virtually indispensable to the Race Director – but what are the features that set it apart and allow him to keep an eye on the race? “That would be the radio system, the built-in two-way communication and command centre with multiple channels. You talk to great numbers of people during the day so effective communication is crucial.”

Apart from the communication system connected to six outside antennas, the car also features a sizeable retractable sunroof that allows the Race Director to stand up and observe various situations, and, for his personal comfort, also a built-in fridge.

Circling back to the Škoda ENYAQ iV, how does this particular model fulfil the crucial role? “For me, it’s very comfortable, spacious, it’s easy to work in it. My place in the car is the backseat and I really appreciate all the space I have at my disposal. So, in terms of space and comfort, Škoda is the best brand for that. Another important thing is how safe the vehicle is,” says Mr Guillén.

Naturally, one might ask how significant of a change was the first entirely electric Leading Car at La Vuelta. “The most important thing is that we are contributing towards the sustainability of the planet. This is a very big message that we are sending through Vuelta because cycling is a green sport, which means we need to be a green event. Year by year, we introduce more electric Škoda cars because society and the planet are demanding that we do this,” says Mr. Guillén. He also didn’t forget to mention that an event of such visibility and prestige as La Vuelta is bound to have a positive influence. “People watching listen to the messages. In the end, if you want to be a green sport, you need to practice what you preach, otherwise it’s a contradiction between the message and the practice.”

And, in conclusion, it all boils down to a few essentials, according to Race Director Javier Guillén: “For La Vuelta, the most important ingredients are the route, the riders, the TV, and the organisational cars.”