Vuelta a España route made public
13 mountain stages and 50 classified climb will await the riders at the final Grand Tour of the season.
The Vuelta a España announced the course of the 72nd edition on Thursday, and for the third time in history (after 1997 – Portugal and 2009 – Netherlands) the race will start outside Spain, with the French city of Nîmes – whose history dates back to the Roman Empire – hosting a 13.8km-long team time trial; it will be for the eighth consecutive year that the race will be opened by a TTT, and following this test against the clock, the peloton will spend one more day on French territory, before traveling to Spain for the Prades – Andorra la Vella stage, the first difficult one of the race.
On stage 11, the red jersey contenders will go to the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory on a day with over 3400 altitude meters, for the first mountaintop finish of the 2017 Vuelta. Sierra de la Pandera, Sierra Nevada/Alto Hoya de la Mora, Los Machucos (a new entry at the race, with a 28% maximum gradient) and the fabled Alto de l'Angliru will be the other summit finishes which will spice up things in the second half of the Grand Tour, while a 42km individual time trial from Circuito de Navarra to Logroño is sure to create some significant gaps between the red jersey favourites.
From 19 August to 10 September, when the bunch will arrive in Madrid, the riders will cover 3298 kilometers, tackle 50 classified climbs and take on nine summit finishes, a tough route but which has become a tradition for the Vuelta a España in recent years. The sprinters will get their chances, but it's obvious that overall the race and its fearsome ascents will favour once again the climbers.
Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team's David De La Cruz, winner of stage 9 at the 2016 Vuelta a España and the only Spaniard to wear the red jersey at last year's edition, shared his opinion on the route of his home Grand Tour: "The parcours is really hard, a mountainous Vuelta as always, but also with a pretty long individual time trial which I'm sure will make things very interesting. That's why the winner has to be a complete rider. Besides that, some stages could have crosswinds, making it very dangerous for the GC guys. I like the course and I'm really looking forward to it. Last year our team enjoyed a great race there and I hope we'll have plenty of reasons to smile also this season."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele