Race will take place between August 25 and September 16 - here's everything you need to know
Nine explosive summit finish stage will mark the route of the 2018 Vuelta a España (August 25-September 16) balanced by an opening time trial and longer 32.7-kilometre test against the clock in the third week, similar to the one Chris Froome (Sky) won in 2017.
After a media leak of the route on Friday, organiser Unipublic confirmed the specifics – including stage distances – on Saturday at the 2018 route presentation near Málaga in Estepona.
The race starts in the Andalusia resort town of Malaga with a short time trial of eight kilometres, kicking off the 3271.4km three-week route.
Stage two kicks off a series of nine summit finishes. Most of the mountain days are short stages, between 150 and 200 kilometres. Race Director Javier Guillén revealed a route with just one stage over the 200km mark. Stage 11 is the longest of the race, totalling 208.8km.
After the Caminito del Rey summit finish on day two – where Esteban Chaves won in 2015 – the Vuelta will climb to finish at La Alfaguara, La Covatilla, La Camperona, Les Praeres, Lagos de Covadonga, Monte Oiz and Andorra.
The Tour of Spain lives up to its name by continuing visiting new corners in the Iberian Peninsula.
It takes in three new summit finishes in its drive from Andalusia and Murcia to the north, skirting the Portuguese border to Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and finally Andorra.
La Alfaguara, already on stage four, covers over 12 kilometres with ramps of 12 per cent.
Les Praeres in Asturias on stage 14 looks like Los Machucos in 2017 with its short, narrow and rough road. The day’s five categorised climbs serve up gradients touching on 23 per cent in places.
Stage 17 to Balcón de Bizkaia, deep in the Basque Country, should attract fans especially in the final five kilometres that remain above 10 per cent and peak at 20 per cent.
After a rolling stage 18, Andorra will host a mountainous finale to the 73rd edition of the Vuelta. Stage 19 features a flat start and then a long rise to the line to Naturlandia.
Stage 20 will be the final chance for the general classification contenders to stamp their authority on the race – and it should stun stun like the L’Angliru stage that decided the 2017 race.
It’s a brutal final mountain day that includes a relentless saw-tooth of six categorised climbs from Escaldes-Engordany to the summit finish of Collada de La Gallina – around 4,000 metres of ascent in just 105.8km.
After the Saturday stage, the Vuelta caravan faces a long transfer south. As usual, the Vuelta ends with a flat stage in the country’s capital of Madrid.
“We are discovering new high-altitude finales and we want the mountain to again be a determining factor for La Vuelta,” said race director Javier Guillén “These are the distinguishing marks that have allowed us to breathe new life into the race and which we will continue to defend.”
Unipublic tries to balance the numerous explosive mountain days as it did in 2017, with time trial kilometres. After the eight kilometres in Málaga, the 32.7km individual TT from Santillana del Mar to Torrelavega in Cantabria should allow riders like Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin to gain time.
Vuelta a España 2018 route stages:
|Stage one, Sat 25, Aug||Málaga to Málaga (ITT)||8km|
|Stage two, Sun 26, Aug||Marbella – Caminito del Rey (summit)||163.9km|
|Stage three, Mon 27, Aug||Mijas – Alhaurín de la Torre (hilly)||182.5km|
|Stage four, Tues 28, Aug||Vélez-Málaga – Alfacar. Sierra de la Alfaguara (summit)||162km|
|Stage five, Weds 29, Aug||Granada – Roquetas de Mar (hilly)||188km|
|Stage six, Thurs 30, Aug||Huércal-Overa – San Javier (flat)||153km|
|Stage seven, Fri 31, Aug||Puerto Lumbreras – Pozo Alcón (flat)||182km|
|Stage eight, Sat 1, Sept||Linares – Almadén (flat)||195.5km|
|Stage nine, Sun 2, Sept||Talavera de la Reina – La Covatilla (summit)||195km|
|Mon 3, Sept||Rest day||–|
|Stage 10, Tues 4, Sept||Salamanca – Fermoselle (flat)||172.5km|
|Stage 11, Weds 5, Sept||Provincia de Zamora – Ribeira Sacra. Luintra (hilly)||208.8km|
|Stage 12, Thurs 6, Sept||Mondoñedo – Faro de Estaca de Bares. Mañón (hilly)||177.5km|
|Stage 13, Fri 7, Sept||Candás – Valle de Sabero. La Camperona (summit)||175.5km|
|Stage 14, Sat 8, Sept||Cistierna – Les Praeres. Nava (summit)||167km|
|Stage 15, Sun 9, Sept||Ribera de Arriba – Lagos de Covadonga (summit)||185.5km|
|Mon 10, Sept||Rest day||–|
|Stage 16, Tues 11, Sept||Santillana del Mar – Torrelavega (ITT)||32.7km|
|Stage 17, Weds 12, Sept||Getxo – Balcón de Bizkaia (summit)||166.4km|
|Stage 18, Thurs 13, Sept||Ejea de los Caballeros – Lleida (flat)||180.5km|
|Stage 19, Fri 14, Sept||
Lleida – Andorra. Naturlandia (summit)
|Stage 20, Sat 15, Sept||Andorra. Escaldes-Engordany – Andorra. Collada de La Gallina. Santuario de Canolich (summit)||105.8km|
|Stage 21, Sun 16, Sept||Madrid (flat)||112.3km|