Full details of next year's edition have been confirmed
The Vuelta a España route will be “more spicy” in 2019 after an Alicante depart in its first week, a detour through France and an inclusion of five new uphill finishes.
Next year’s race will feature two time trials and eight uphill finishes, it has been confirmed.
Full details of the 2019 route were announced on Wednesday evening in Alicante where the race will start.
Taking place between August 24 and September 15, the 74th edition will set off from Salinas de Torrevieja and finish in Madrid after 3,272.2km of racing.
The race will include eight uphill finishes, five of which are new to the Vuelta.
Kicking off with a team time trial, the first three stages will take place on the Costa Blanca in eastern Spain, before the peloton heads to Valencia, Teruel, Castellón, Tarragona and Barcelona.
The general classification battle will kick off in the Andorran mountains, including the new ascent to Coll d’Engolasters.
Crossing into France, the race then returns to the peninsula via Navarre, the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias where we will see some familiar peaks along with new additions, like Santuario del Acebo or Alto de la Cubilla.
In the final week, the race moves to the central region, from Castile-La Mancha, Castile and Leòn, and Madrid.
The final will take place in the Gredos and Guadarrama mountains, taking on mythical mountain passes like La Morcuera, which featured in the 2015 edition when Fabio Aru took the red jersey from Dumoulin on stage 20.
Race director Javier Guilleén said: “It’s going to be a hard but very interesting Vuelta, with surprises, intrigue and emotion guaranteed.
“Short but intense stages including innovation and new and unprecedented ascents.
“The Vuelta brand is what it is, and we will never give it up, to the contrary, we seek to strengthen it.”
The race opens with a flat 18km team time trial from Salinas de Torrevieja to Torrevieja, followed by a lumpy day from Benidorm to Calpe on stage two.
Stage three is a sprint possibility over 186km to Alicante, but with two third category climbs on the road.
Another sprint on stage four before the first summit finish on stage five – 165.6km to Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre.
Stage six is a long day in the saddle at almost 200km with another third category summit finish at Ares del Maestrat.
Tough finishes come thick and fast in next year’s race, with a first category testing finishing off stage seven.
Stage eight is an unpredictable test, with lumpy terrain over 168km before a second category climb in the final, followed by a descent and a flat finish.
The first key stage for the GC comes on stage nine, with just a 96km route fitting in five categorised climbs and finishing with a cat one summit at Cortals d’Encamp.
Stage 10 is the long-rumoured individual time trial – 36.1km to the iconic Pau.
Then comes a transition stage featuring third and second category climbs along the route before a tricky finishing circuit.
Stage 12 involves three short but tough consecutive climbs and a downhill run to the finish in Bilbao.
Unlucky stage 13 is going to be hard – seven climbs including a final ascent to Los Machucos where Aqua Blue Sport’s Stefan Denifl held off Alberto Contador in 2017.
Sprinters return for stage 14 before a savage day in mountains for stage 15, with a beyond categorisation climb in the final.
One of the defining GC days follows, another mountain top finish at Alto de La Cubilla Lena.
The longest stage of this Vuelta is 17, at 199.7km to Guadalajara.
Stage 18 is another brutal day – four first cat climbs over 180km.
Then on stage 19 we have a sprint finish to Toledo, before the decisive penultimate stage with five categorised climbs, finishing with a third cat run to the line.
Finally stage 20 is the processional sprint stage into Madrid, bringing to a close the 2018 edition of the race.