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Cycling News Flash, December 17, 2008

Date published:
December 17, 2008, 0:00 GMT
  • Vuelta 2009: Easy start, tough ending

    The 2009 Vuelta a España, the third of three Grand Tours, was presented today in Madrid.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2008, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Bjorn Haake

    By Bjorn Haake Race organisers Unipublic and ASO presented today in Madrid a 2009 Vuelta a España...

    Race organisers Unipublic and ASO presented today in Madrid a 2009 Vuelta a España that will kick off outside of Spain for the first time since 1997. From the start in Assen, Netherlands, to the finale on the famed Paseo del Prado in Madrid the riders face 3279 kilometres. There will be five mountain top finishes in the three-week race, held from August 29 to September 20.

    "It's the most international Vuelta ever. It has all of the elements necessary to provide a great race," Javier Guillen to the International Herald Tribune. He is the new race director, taking over for Victor Cordero stepped down last year.

    The race will start out with a 4.5-kilometre time trial on the motorbike race track in Assen. Two more stages will follow in the Netherlands, before the race heads into Belgium, via Germany. The fourth stage will be the longest of the Vuelta, at 223 kilometres, and will finish in Liège, Belgium.

    The first rest day is early to allow the entire Vuelta caravan to travel to its native Spain. The race will resume in Tarragona, Catalunya, where the peloton will find the first two mountains of some significance (Fatxas and Benifallet). The Vuelta heads down the coast – mostly via a transfer – to Xátiva, near Valencia.

    In Valencia, the first real test takes place, a 30-kilometre individual time trial. Its finish will be on the Formula 1 race track of Valencia and thus slightly resemble the opening day.

    Unlike the opening time trial, the first individual time trial is no longer followed by flat stages. It is time for the first real mountain stages. Back to back mountain top finishes in Aitana and Xorret del Catí will start clearing up the overall situation. A short breather in Murcia will be followed by another mountain stage, to Caravaca de la Cruz. Thursday, September 10, the second rest day will give the riders needed recovery time.

    The riders will need the break, as...