The Tour of Spain will return to the country’s most legendary climb, the Angliru, in 2011 in a final week which will also include the race’s first incursion into the Basque Country in over 30 years and a final time trial in Madrid.
According to newspaper La Nueva España, the deal between the town of Riosa, at the foot of the 12.5 kilometre climb, and the Vuelta organisers Unipublic is all but sealed.
First used in 1999, Angliru’s extreme steepness and beautiful surroundings have quickly earned it the status of Alpe D’Huez in the Tour de France or the Mortirolo in the Giro. The most recent winner there was Alberto Contador, back in 2008.
Also possibly on the cards in the third week are another legendary summit finish at the Lagos de Covadonga – deep in one of Spain’s wildest regions, the Picos de Europa and home to some of the last wolves in Europe. It was last used this year.
Later on that week the race will then visit the Basque Country, with stage finishes in two of the region’s capitals, Vitoria and Bilbao. The stages will be the first in the region since 1978, when the final day’s racing of the Tour of Spain had to be cancelled when Basque separatists blocked the route with huge timbers and other barriers.
A lengthy transfer on the morning of the final stage will then see the curtain go down on the race with an individual time trial in Madrid on September 18th.
La Vuelta is due to be presented on January 12th in Alicante, the capital of the region where Benidorm, the race’s start town, is located. In the first week there will be a return to the lethally steep slopes of the Alto de Xati and a summit finish at Sierra Nevada.
The reason for such a late presentation is to ensure that the city’s new congress hall is ready to host the event, but at this rate the entire route is at risk of being leaked before it takes place.