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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) the best three of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana
Uphill stage finishes expected in Galicia, Andalusia and Andorra
More details have emerged about the 2013 Vuelta a España route, which will feature a very hilly start in the opening team time trial, an uphill finish on stage on two and a return to the ultra-steep Collado de la Gallina climb in Andorra.
Traditionally the last Grand Tour to release its route details, it had already been published that the Vuelta 2013 is due to start in the north-westerly region of Galicia for the first time since 2007. There is likely to be a minimum of four stages but perhaps as many as seven in one of Spain's hilliest regions. The opening team time trial on August 24th is said to be between 20 and 30 kilometres long, with the starting ramps and first few metres of riding on a specially designed raft floating in one of Galicia’s many long, narrow sea inlets or rias. But beyond that, there was little more definitive information.
However, according to the local Voz de Galicia newspaper, it is now certain that the opening stage will finish in the coastal town of Sanxenxo. The same area played host to a very technical, hilly time trial in last year’s race, and by using this town as a finish, the Vuelta 2013 will very likely see a far tougher – and longer – first team time trial stage than is usually the case, where time differences are generally just a handful of seconds.
As if such a tricky team time trial was not enough of an early shake-up, stage two, according to La Voz de Galicia, will feature the race’s first summit finish of Monte Lobeira in the town of Vilanova. The Monte Lobeira is just 1.6 kilometres long but will again allow for more differences to open up between the big favourites from unusually early on in the race.
In yet more good news for the Grand Tour’s mountain specialists, after last year’s race failed completely to venture into southern Spain, Cyclingnews also understands that the Vuelta will also feature an uphill stage finish in Sierra Nevada in Andalusia. The Vuelta is also strongly rumoured to have a stage finish on the Collado de la Gallina climb in Andorra for the second year running.
The full race route of the Vuelta is not due to be released until early January 2013. Perhaps understandably given how difficult the route could be, several of cycling's top Grand Tour contenders are saying they will wait until they see the route before deciding whether to take part.