The final Grand Tour of the 2018 season kicks off on Saturday, August 25 with the Vuelta a España's opening stage in Malaga. It is the first individual time trial start for the Spanish race in nine years.
Riders will tackle a flat but technical eight-km circuit along the Costa del Sol, which should not see big gaps in the general classification, but it will establish the first leader of the race. The technically 'flat' second stage has a punchy uphill finish that may not open too many gaps between the overall contenders, but favours the climbers. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) won here in 2015.
The race hits the mountains in the first week, with the category 1 Puerto del Madrono early on stage 3 serving as a warm-up before the first major summit finish on the Puerto de Alfacar on stage 4 separates the contenders from the pretenders.
The next three stages are flat, but the sweltering heat and possible crosswinds will make for some uncomfortable days on the bike heading up through Andalucia. The mountains return on stage 9 with a 200km slog through the mountains of Castilla y Leon finishing at the ski station of La Covatilla – the first 'especial' category summit finish of the race, and one that's sure to establish the GC pecking order.
After the first rest day, the peloton must make its way through the rugged hills of Galicia before a triple summit finish stretch – first on stage 13 up the Alto de la Camperona, then the Alto les Praeres, followed by the hors-catégorie Lagos de Covadonga on stage 15. The series of steep summit finales will be a sting in the legs before the well deserved second rest day.
The 32km individual time trial after the rest day in Santander will further widen the GC gaps, setting up the fireworks for the last mountain stages – the explosive Balcón de Bizkaia with its wickedly steep ramps on stage 17 and the lengthy high-altitude Andorran ascent to Coll de la Rabassa on stage 19.
Vuelta preview and stage details
You can find everything you will need about the Vuelta a España at our hub page, including a complete preview analysing the contenders for the overall classification, points classification and the race route. There are maps and profiles in each stage preview page.
Cyclingnews once again bring start to finish comprehensive live text coverage of every stage, with exclusive information from the race including insights and rider quotes from our staff before the race, analysis and information during the race, and results, standings, rider quotes and recaps after the finish.
If you wish to be alerted to the most critical moments, follow us on our social media channels, and we will let you know when the race is heating up! Engage with us on Twitter, and you could find your tweet embedded in our live coverage!
Race reports, news and analysis
Cyclingnews will bring you breaking news, comments from the winners, animators and main protagonists as well as full race results, reports and analysis from the Vuelta a España.
After each stage, we will post the official video highlights shortly after the finish.
Our team will be producing regular podcasts discussing the racing action and off-the-bike dramas of the Vuelta a España.
2018 Vuelta a España stages
Stage 1: Sat. August 25, 2018 - Malaga - Malaga, 8km - ITT. Start 17:26, Finish 20:30
Stage 2: Sun. August 26, 2018 - Marbella - Caminito del Rey, 163.5km - Flat. Start 13:35, Finish 17:40
Stage 3: Mon. August 27, 2018 - Mijas - Alhaurín de la Torre, 178.2km - Medium Mountains. Start: 13:06, Finish 17:40
Stage 4: Tue. August 28, 2018 - Vélez-Málaga - Sierra de la Alfaguara, 161.4km - Medium Mountains. Start 13:19, Finish 17:40
Stage 5: Wed. August 29, 2018 - Granada - Roquetas de Mar , 188.7km - Medium Mountains. Start 11:56, Finish 17:10
Stage 6: Thur. August 30, 2018 - Huércal-Overa - San Javier. Mar Menor, 155.7km - Flat. Start 13:58, Finish 17:40
Stage 7: Fri. August 31, 2018 - Puerto Lumbreras - Pozo Alcón, 185.7km - Flat. Start 12:25, Finish 17:10
Stage 8: Sat. September 01, 2018 - Linares - Almadén, 195.5km - Flat. Start 12:10, Finish 17:10
Stage 9: Sun. September 02, 2018 - Talavera de la Reina - La Covatilla, 200.8km - Mountain. Start 12:06, Finish 17:40
Rest Day 1: Mon. September 03, 2018 - Salamanca.
Stage 10: Tue. September 04, 2018 - Salamanca - Fermoselle. Bermillo de Sayago, 177km - Flat. Start 13:21, Finish 17:40
Stage 11: Wed. September 05, 2018 - Mombuey - Ribeira Sacra. Luintra, 207.8km - Hilly. Start 12:04, Finish 17:40
Stage 12: Thu. September 06, 2018 - Mondoñedo - Mañón, 181.1km - Hilly. Start 12:17, Finish 17:10
Stage 13: Fri. September 07, 2018 - Candás. Carreño - La Camperona, 174.8km - Mountain. Start 12:57, Finish 17:40
Stage 14: Sat. September 08, 2018 - Cistierna - Les Praeres. Nava, 171km - Mountain. Start 12:55, Finish 17:40
Stage 15: Sun. September 09, 2018 - Ribera de Arriba - Lagos de Covadonga, 178.2km - Mountain. Start 12:44, Finish 17:40
Rest Day 2: Mon. September 10, 2018 - Santander
Stage 16: Tue. September 11, 2018 - Santillana del Mar - Torrelavega, 32km - ITT. Start 14:06, Finish 17:40
Stage 17: Wed. September 12, 2018 - Getxo - Balcón de Bizkaia, 157km - Hilly. Start 13:26, Finish 17:40.
Stage 18: Thu. September 13, 2018 - Ejea de los Caballeros - Lleida, 186.1km - Flat. Start 13:08, Finish 17:40
Stage 19: Fri. September 14, 2018 - Lleida - Andorra. Naturlandia, 154.4km - Flat. Start 13:30, Finish 17:40
Stage 20: Sat. September 15, 2018 - Andorra - Coll de la Gallina, 97.3km - Mountain. Start 14:54, Finish 17:40
Stage 21: Sun. September 16, 2018 - Alcorcón - Madrid, 100.9km - Flat. Start 17:15, Finish 19:58.
Cyclingnews has compiled a bumper list of 12 riders to watch for the forthcoming Vuelta a España. Watch the video above to see who made it into our list and click here to subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel.