Reigning Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates has shared his thoughts after the unveiling of the 2019 route.
Yates, who took his maiden Grand Tour victory in Spain this year, recently announced plans to return to the Giro d’Italia after a dramatic 2018 attempt.
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The 26-year-old was invited to the Vuelta’s route unveiling ceremony in Alicante on Wednesday night as the title holder.
He said: “There’s some spectacular summit finishes, some that I know already and it looks really difficult.
“I think in general the route looks good, with a team time trial at the start we have a really good strong team there and also the stage to Andorra I know the roads really well, which we saw this year.”
The 2019 Vuelta features two time trials – one team and one individual – and eight uphill finishes.
Included in the course are five new climbs that have not featured in the race before.
Yates added: “With the individual time trial I am slowly improving year on year and I think I am at a level now where I am not afraid of the time trials.
“For the rest of the stages , there’s many mountains and from what I have seen from the route there’s a lot of longer climbs which is good.
“Watching the video tonight from the race this year, it brings back really good memories and it’s good to see that the Vuelta 2019 looks as hard as always.”
Yates rode a mesmerising 2018 season, leading the Giro for two weeks before a spectacular collapse on the penultimate mountain stage that saw him drop to 21st overall.
But the Bury-born climber returned to Grand Tour racing in September and shone from start to finish.
Yates took the red jersey on stage nine and after dropping to second for two days, rode to glory in Madrid.
On the 2019 route, he said: “There’s many tough stages, some of the stages are short with concentrated climbing but sometimes these aren’t so bad because they are so short you can really get everything out.
“It is the ones that are really long that you have to conserve your energy a little more for the finals, they can be more tricky.
“The last couple of years have had many short steep climbs but I saw there’s more longer drawn out climbs for 2019, which I think actually suits me better.
“But as always it really depends on how the stage is going.”
Yates plans to return to the Giro in 2019 to put the bittersweet memories of the 2018 race behind him, but his plans for the late season are not yet confirmed.
His Mitchelton-Scott team said plans for the second half of 2019 will not be confirmed until after the Giro.
With many familiar climbs, including some near his Andorra home, could Yates be tempted back to defend his title?
He said: “I’ve been along the off-road section in Andorra many times, it is actually a short-cut to go home and it isn’t as bad is it looks on it’s own, but to have it during a mountainous Andorra stage is very difficult.
“There’s not only the Andorra stage that looks hard, there’s a lot of stages with many, many metres of climbing that all look very difficult.
“It is a very typical Vuelta route, there’s quite a lot of stages back-to-back that are really hard.
“I would have to do more recon to know some of the stages in more detail but as I say it looks very difficult.”