The route for the 2015 Vuelta a España was revealed last week with the Spanish Grand Tour taking place on the 22 August to September 13.
The organisers released a teaser video to whet the appetites of fans and cyclists alike who love the Vuelta, the video itself drenched in European dramatics:
The final Grand Tour of the season will begin on the Spanish island of Marbella at Porto Banus with a Team Time Trial that is 7.4km long and kicks off three weeks of racing around Spain.
The Vuelta is the final Grand Tour of the season and is often used as a warm up for the National Championships that take place in September, with riders abandoning after a week or two.
It rose to popularity in 2014 as it was the arena for the showdown between Chris Froome and Alberto Contador after both riders crashed out of the Tour de France.
Stage 2 of the Vuelta goes from the South Coast town of Alhaurín de la Torre to Caminito del Rey covering 165km with one category 3 climb, and stage 3 is a slightly hillier 164.6km stage from Mijas to Málaga.
Stage 4 is the last stage in the Málaga region and is pan flat for the whole 203km from Estepona to Vejer de la Frontera. Stage 5 is another flat stage that runs from Rota to Ronda for 182km as the race heads inland towards the centre of Spain.
After the Team Time Trial on Stage 1 the race is geared up for four sprint finishes, with just three categorised climbs across Stages 2-5. Expect the Green points classification jersey to change hands a couple of times in the first week as the sprinters grapple for valuable points and time bonuses on the finish line.
Stage 7 is another medium mountain Stage with a category 3 climb 87km from the start in Jódar and finishing with a category 1 summit finish at the Capilleira in La Alpujarra after 188.3km of racing.This Stage could be key as the Vuelta looks to hit the riders hard with mountain finishes in the first week, making it tremendously tough for any rider who isn’t in peak condition. Expect gaps to open up in the GC and real contenders to rear their heads in a bid to take the Red jersey.
Stage 8 from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia 188.6km later is downhill for the first 117km which could make is hard for a breakaway to form so expect a fast pace to this Stage. There are two category 3 climbs to contend with as the peloton tackle the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo twice before finishing – probably with a sprint – in Murcia.
The Vuelta then heads to the East coast and the notorious winds that split the peloton. Stage 9 is 168.3km from Torrevieja to the category 1 summit finish at the Alto Cumbre del Sol and is entirely coastal roads. A breakaway could be successful on the Stage if they can get away in the wind.
Stage 10 sticks to the coast as the riders take on one of the shortest road stages: 152km from Valencia to Borja on the coast, with a category 3 climb and the category 2 climb at the Alto del Desierto de las Palmas. This climb features almost 25km from the finish, which would be plenty of time to reel in a break for a sprint finish before the first rest day.
After the rest day, the race gets underway by hurting riders right from the off. Stage 11 on Wednesday 2nd September is only 138km long but includes 4 category 1 climbs, 1 category 2 and a HC category climb at Collada de la Gallina. As if this wasn’t tough enough the race is a summit finish, ending on the category one Alto Els Cortals de Encampa. This is the vital stage and could be the making of the eventual winner; it the first time an entire Vuelta a España stage has been hosted in Andorra.
The race returns to Spain on Stage 12 with a 172.5km stage from Escaldes to Lleida, which is preominantly flat with only the category 2 Colle de Bóixols to contend with at 53km in. Stage 13 is 168km long from Calatayud to Tarazona, featuring 2 category 3 and the category 2 climb of the Alto de Beratón as the race heads towards Northern Spain.
The 14th Stage is another potential leg-breaker as the riders tackle 213km from Vitoria to the category one summit finish at Alto Campoo in Fuente del Chivo. In this stage they will also have to tackle the first category Puerto del Escudo as well as the third category Puerto Estacas de Trueba.
Stage 15 sees another category one summit finish at the Alto de Sostres in Cabrales after riding 175km from Comillas and tackling the second category Collado Alto del Torno and the third category Alto de Cabrales along the way.
Stage 16 is another painful day for the peloton as they take on three category three climbs, two category two climbs and one category one climb in the 184km stage from Luarca to Quiros. This stage will finish on the HC climb of the Ermita de Alba and could be where the Red jersey is won or lost as the race now moves towards the centre of Spain and away from the Northern mountains.
Stage 17 gives some respite to riders not contending the GC with a 39km individual time trial around Burgos, which is flat but for a few small, uncategorised inclines. This Stage preceeds the final rest day so is a great prelude to the fireworks as the GC contenders will all want to go into the final week wearing the Red jersey.
The race continues on Thursday 10th September with Stage 18 – a bumpy 204km ride from Roa to Riaza taking in the first category Puerto de la Quesera. Stage 19 could almost be classified as a flat stage as it includes a sole category 2 climb in the 185km from Medina del Campo to Ávila.
Stage 20 is where the GC contenders have the last role of the dice, and it’s a stage that will cause a lot of fireworks. In the 181km from San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla there are four category one climbs including the Puerto de Navacerra and the Puerto de la Morcuera. This stage doesn’t finish on a summit, so it’s likely that there will be attacks off the front on the final climb by riders who want to seal their victory or take the Red jersey. With only 20km from the top of the final climb to the finish – most of it descending – look out for plenty of attacks.
The final stage of the 2015 Vuelta a España as always is a procession into Madrid, where the winner will be crowned along with the winners of the other classifications.
The complete route for the Vuelta a España 2015:
Sat 22/8 Stage 1: Puerto Banus > Marbella (Team Time Trial) 7.4km
Sun 23/8 Stage 2: Alhaurín de la Torre > Caminito del Rey 165km
Mon 24/8 Stage 3: Mijas > Málaga 164.6km
Tue 25/8 Stage 4: Estepona > Vejer de la Frontera 203km
Wed 26/8 Stage 5: Rota > Ronda 182km
Thu 27/8 Stage 6: Córdoba > Sierra da Corzola 204km
Fri 28/8 Stage 7: Jódar > La Alpujarra 188.3km
Sat 29/8 Stage 8: Puebla de Don Fadrique > Murcia 188.6km
Sun 30/8 Stage 9: Torrevieja > Alto Cumbre del Sol 168.3km
Mon 31/8 Stage 10: Valencia > Borja 152km
Tue 1/9: Rest Day
Wed 2/9 Stage 11: Andorra la Vella > Cortals de Encampa 138km
Thu 3/9 Stage 12: Escaldes > Lleida 172.5km
Fri 4/9 Stage 13: Calatayud > Tarazona 168km
Sat 5/9 Stage 14: Vitoria > Fuente del Chivo 213km
Sun 6/9 Stage 15: Comillas > Cabrales 175km
Mon 7/9 Stage 16: Luarca to Quiros 184km
Tue 8/9: Rest Day
Wed 9/9 Stage 17: Burgos > Burgos (Individual Time Trial) 39km
Thu 10/9 Stage 18: Roa > Riaza 204km
Fri 11/9 Stage 19: Medina del Campo > Ávila 185km
Sat 12/9 Stage 20: San Lorenzo de El Escorial > Cercedilla 181km
Sun 13/9 Stage 21: Alcalá de Henares > Madrid 93.7km