With just under a month until the official unveiling of the 2019 Vuelta a Espana route, pieces of the puzzle continue to fall into place. Visits to Andorra and France are already on the cards and it looks like the Spanish Grand Tour will once again return to Asturias.
The Minister for Employment, Industry and Tourism, Isaac Pola, told Radio Televisión del Principado de Asturias that the Vuelta a Espana would be spending three days in the region. The stint in Asturias is set for the end of the second week, September 7, 8 and 9, and will see the riders tackle two summit finishes, according to Pola.
With its challenging climbs, the Vuelta a Espana has visited Asturias on many occasions. This year's race featured summit finishes at Praeres de Nava and Lagos de Covadonga.
In 2019, the Alto del Acebo and Puerto de La Cubilla will play host to the two summit finishes, while the third stage finish will be held in the Asturian capital of Oviedo. It will be the first time since 1987 that the Vuelta has visited Oviedo, the home of Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso and former riders Samuel Sanchez and Carlos Barredo.
Those who watch the Vuelta a Asturias will be familiar with the Alto del Acebo, as it has been a regular feature of the three-day race. Richard Carapaz won there en-route to overall victory this year and other previous winners on the climb include Nairo Quintana and Hugh Carthy. It is 10 kilometres long and holds an average gradient of 8.2 per cent, venturing into the double digits on several occasions.
The much longer Puerto de La Cubilla is less known but is a popular climb for local riders and cycle tourists. Dubbed by some as the Galibier of the Asturias, the 27-kilometre ascent links Asturias with its neighbouring region Leon. While it is long, the gradient is not overly challenging with an average of five per cent and a maximum of ten.
The 2019 Vuelta Espana will start in Torrevieja on August 24 and will spend three days in the Alicante region. The three-week race is expected to return to Andorra for a stage finish, after holding the final mountain stages of this year’s race. It is also rumoured to be heading back to France after a successful Gran Salida in Nimes in 2017.
The full route of the 2019 Vuelta a Espana will be officially revealed in a ceremony in Alicante on December 19.