The 2008 Vuelta Espana looks set to be dominated by the climbers after organisers unveiled a route packed with mountain stage and only 63km of time trials.
The 63rd edition of the Spanish stage race starts in the southern town of Granada on August 30 and ends three weeks later in Madrid on September 21. Eight of the 21 stages are classified as mountain stages with four mountain top finishes including one at the summit of the steep Alto de L?Angliru, back in the Vuelta after a five year absence.
There is only one flat time trial over 40km around Ciudad Real on stage five, with an opening 7km team time trial and a 16km final uphill time trial near Madrid, giving the climbers a clear advantage over the likes of 2007 winner Denis Menchov of Rabobank.
The first week of racing suits the sprinters but after a long transfer from Toledo to the Pyrenees, the climbing begins with three consecutive mountain stages with finishes in Andorra, Pla de Beret and Sabinanigo.
The Angliru comes on the first mountain stage in the northern Cantabria region on September 13 after the second rest day but includes four other climbs in 199km of racing. Stage 14 is packed with six tough climbs in just 158km of racing and a finish at the top of the Fuentes di Invierno climb.
Four stages in the final week suit the sprinters and breakaways but the overall winner?s gold jersey will be decided in the 16km mountain time trial to Alto de Navacerrada on the final Saturday.
The route suits Spain?s Carlos Sastre (CSC), who could finally win a major stage. Other contenders could include Riccardo Ricco of Saunier Duval and Euskaltel?s Samuel Sanchez.
VUELTA A ESPANA 2008: STAGES
1 30/8 Granada - Granada (TTT) 7km
2 31/8 Granada - Jaén 167
3 1/9 Jaén - Córdoba 165
4 2/9 Córdoba - Puertollano 153
5 3/9 Ciudad Real - Ciudad Real (TT) 40
6 4/9 Ciudad Real - Toledo 162
5/9 Rest day and transfer
7 6/9 Barbastro - Andorra (La Rabassa) 224
8 7/9 Andorra - Pla de Beret 160
9 8/9 Viella - Sabiñánigo 198
10 9/9 Sabiñánigo - Zaragoza 173
11 10/9 Calahorra - Burgos 178
12 11/9 Burgos - Suances 180
12/9 Rest day
13 13/9 S. Vicente Barquera- Angliru 199
14 14/9 Oviedo - E. Fuentes de Invierno 158
15 15/9 Cudillero - Ponferrada 194
16 16/9 Ponferrada - Zamora 185
17 17/9 Zamora - Valladolid 160
18 18/9 Valladolid - Las Rozas 179
19 19/9 Las Rozas - Segovia 161
20 20/9 La Granja - Navacerrada (TT) 16
21 21/9 S.S de los Reyes - Madrid 110