Alicante is set to host a key time trial stage of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana, the region’s tourist board has announced. Detail of the stages have yet to be finalised but is expected to begin in the northern most tip of the province and then head south.
“The province will host a time trial that will be decisive for the final classification with a start in Xabia and an itinerary that will pass through the municipalities of El Pole Nou de Benitatxell, Teulada-Moraira, Benissa and Calpe,” said vice president of the tourist board Eduardo Dolón said according to the Spanish Newspaper Marca.
Marca reports that meetings with the various local councils and the Vuelta a Espana organisers will take place in the next week before a final route will be decided upon. However, the inclusion of Benissa in the course means that the course is likely to initially travel inland for the first part of the route before heading back towards the coast to take in popular tourist destinations such as Calpe.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) won the key time trial stage in this year's Vuelta a Espana before fading in the final mountain stages and losing the leader's red jersey to eventual winner Fabio Aru (Astana).
“We are looking to adapt the route to open it and bring it closer to the people so that the fans can enjoy this festival of sport,” said Dolón.
Alicante is a regular feature in the Vuelta a Espana, with the riders venturing into the region for the summit finish of Cumbre del Sol on stage 9 – also won by Dumoulin. The region is also a popular place with the teams for their winter training camps with plenty of climbing nearby and a generally more temperate climate.
The full Vuelta a Espana route is due to be announced next January but it has already be confirmed that the 2016 race will begin in the opposite corner of the country in Galicia. As has become tradition, it is expected that the opening stage will be a team time trial.
The 2016 Vuelta a Espana takes place from August 20 to September 11.