The route of the 2020 Vuelta a España has been officially unveiled, featuring the Col du Tourmalet, the Angliru and stages in the Netherlands, France and Portugal.
Starting with three days in the Netherlands, Utrecht 40km south of Amsterdam will host a 23.7km team time trial on the opening day, becoming the first city in history to host all three Grand Tours. Two further days in the Netherlands follow before the race heads back to Spain.
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Next year the race will travel through four countries, with eight flat stages and 11 hilly or mountain stages, one team time trial and one individual time trial, with a total distance of 3,245km.
Race director Javier Guillén said: “The race has undergone many transformations throughout its history, but I would go as far as to say that we are currently in our best moment. We have built a real personality for the race, characterised for its spectacular and unpredictable nature as well as for its innovative and daring spirit. 74 editions under our belt that show just how hard we’ve worked to get where we are today.
“I can think of few places better than Holland to celebrate a cycling anniversary. It is a territory that lives and breathes for cycling. That said, for the 2020 edition, we wanted to do something extra special and ended up designing the race’s most international route in its long history. We will visit four countries: Holland, Spain, France and Portugal, thus becoming one of the most relevant European sporting events in 2020.”
After the Netherlands, the race heads down to Spain, with a brief spell in France and two stages in Portugal.
The official presentation was held at the Madrid Marriott Auditorium on Tuesday evening (December 17), with former Vuelta winners Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru and Sean Kelly among the attendees.
As the race heads into Spain on stage four, things get tough immediately with a mid-range mountain stage finish atop a second category climb, followed by another two mountain stages.
Perhaps the most striking stage is day nine – a 135km jaunt over three huge mountains, finishing atop the historic Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees.
Stage 15 is also a big climbing day, covering just 109km but taking in five categorised climbs, including the summit finish on the dreaded Angliru.
The time trial stage comes on day 16 – 33.5km with a short and sharp climb up to the finish line.
On the penultimate day of racing, the peloton will tackle a 175.8km run with six categorised ascents on the way, finishing with the Alto de la Covatilla.
The race then closes out with a 125km sprint stage to Madrid.
Here are the full details of the route for the 2020 Vuelta a España:
Vuelta a España 2020 route: Stage-by-stage
Stage one, August 14: Utrecht to Utrecht (23.3km team time trial)
The opening stage of the 2020 Vuelta will be a mid-length team time trial in the Netherlands, continuing the trend of opening the Spanish Grand Tour with a TT. There are always some big name casualties when the dust settles on an early Vuelta TTT.
Stage two, August 15: ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Utrecht (181km)
The first road stage looks set for a sprint on the famously flat roads of the Netherlands. With just one categorised climb on the route, half way through the stage, this will be one of the few chances for the powerful riders to take victory.
Stage three, August 16: Breda to Breda (193km)
The final stage in the Netherlands is set for another sprint day, with no notable ascents over the 193km course. Expect a big fight for the stage honours however, as the race heads into its first rest day to give riders a chance to travel south to Spain.
Rest day, August 17
Stage four, August 18: Irùn to Arrate-Eibar (169km)
In true Vuelta style, the climbing starts early.
Stage four throws the peloton into a challenging mountain stage immediately after the rest day, with four categorised climbs.
The final summit tops out around a kilometre from the finish, so this will be an open opportunity for versatile climbers and puncheurs.
Stage five, August 19: Pamplona to Lekunberri (151km)
Another mountain day, this time with only three categorised climbs.
However, stage five also features the first category one ascent of the race before a rapid 17km descent to the line.
Stage six, August 20: Lodosa to La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa (163km)
A day of constant climbing on day six. The road ramps up immediately and never lets up, before the finish.
The first category rise to the line could be fertile ground for a GC battle.
Stage seven, August 21: Garray. Numancia to Ejea de los Caballeros (190km)
A probable sprint day on stage seven, despite the undulating terrain. However, a breakaway could be motivated to try and stay away if the peloton is looking for an easy day.
Stage eight, August 22: Huesca to Sabiñánigo (185km)
More mountains, this time with countless uncategorised rises before a substantial final with three notable peaks, before a fast descent to the line.
Stage nine, August 23: Biescas to Col du Tourmalet (135km)
A huge day on stage nine – the race crosses the border to France on a very short 135km with no flat stretch of road in sight.
With a first cat climb to start, followed by two HC climbs, the GC battle could explode on the legendary slopes of the Col du Tourmalet before the second rest day.
Rest day, August 24
Stage 10, August 25: Vitoria Gasteiz to Villanueva de Valdegovia (160km)
A probably breakaway stage follows the second rest. With undulating terrain that will eliminate many of the sprinters, the climbs don’t look tough enough to really offer opportunities for the overall contenders – watch out for Thomas De Gendt or someone similar jumping into the move early in the day.
Stage 11, August 26: Logroño to Alto de Moncalvillo (164km)
Back to the GC battle on stage 11, with a tense day over two categorised climbs, finishing with the first category Alto de Moncalvillo.
Stage 12, August 27: Castrillo del Val to Aguilar de Campoo (163km)
An expected sprint day on stage 11, over 163km to Aguilar de Campoo.
Stage 13, August 28: Castro Urdiales to Suances (187km)
This could be an unpredictable Classics-style stage on day 13, but it all depends on how its raced.
With lot of uncategorised climbs on the road, it’s likely to be an unpredictable stage and riders may only find out exactly what these climbs are like when they arrive on race day.
Stage 14, August 29: Villaviciosa to Alto de la Farrapona (170km)
The toughest day of racing so far on stage 14 – five categorised climbs, four of which are in the highest category.
With a huge final summit finish, GC contenders are likely to mark this one down as a dangerous day.
Stage 15, August 30: La Pola Llaviana to Alto de l’Angliru (109km)
The second of the short mountain stages of the 2020 Vuelta, this one just 109km and finishing atop the formidable Angliru.
Riders can empty the tank as they head into the third and final rest day.
Rest day, August 31
Stage 16, September 1: Muros to Mirador de Ézaro Dumbría (33.5km individual time trial)
The only individual time trial of this Vuelta comes on stage 16.
At 33.5km its a mid length TT, mostly pan flat but with the sudden rapid rise in the final 2km, setting up the final days of the GC battle.
Stage 17, September 2: Lugo to Ourense (205km)
Mixed terrain on stage 17, which could be a sprint day if the fast riders still have the legs, but the rolling roads could also lend themselves to a breakaway escape as fatigue sets in during the final week.
Stage 18, September 3: Mos to Porto Matosinhos (178km)
Pan flat sprint stage through Portugal, ticking off the fourth country this Vuelta will visit.
Stage 19, September 4: Viseu to Cuidad Rodrigo (177km)
Potential sprint day as the race heads back into Spain to set up the final mountain stage.
Stage 20, September 5: Sequeros to Alto de la Covatilla (175.8km)
The grand finale of the 2020 Vuelta – 175km with a mix of climbs to shake things up.
With a combination of all categorised climbs, the relentless nature of the course is likely to cause a few upsets in the GC top-10, before a huge summit finish on the Covatilla to decide the overall classification.
Stage 21, September 6: Hipódromo de la Zarzuela to Madrid (125km)
The race closes out with the Madrid sprint stage.