Simon Yates liked what he saw when the route of the 2019 Vuelta a Espana was revealed in Alicante on Wednesday evening, saying that the increased number of long climbs suited him better. The Mitchelton-Scott rider claimed his first Grand Tour title when he won the overall classification at this year’s race, beating Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez to take the title.
The 2019 Vuelta will keep its traditional brutally steep and short climbs but there will be a number of lengthier uphill tests, including the Asturian ascents of the Alto del Acebo and La Cubilla. Yates won a stage of this year’s race in Asturias, though it was the shorter and punchier Les Praeres de Nava. As well as favouring the longer climbs, Yates is also confident that the two time trials – one team and one individual – will not prove the major hurdles that they once were.
“There are some spectacular summit finishes, some that I know already and it looks really difficult,” Yates said of the route. "I think in general the route looks good, with a team time trial at the start we have a really good strong team there and also the stage to Andorra I know the roads really well, which we saw this year.
“With the individual time trial, I am slowly improving year on year and I think I am at a level now where I am not afraid of the time trials. For the rest of the stages, there are many mountains and from what I have seen from the route there are a lot longer climbs, which is good.
“The last couple of years have had many short steep climbs but I saw there are more longer drawn out climbs for 2019 which I think actually suits me better. But as always it really depends on how the stage is going.”
Next year’s Vuelta a Espana will return to Andorra, a terrain that Yates is particularly familiar with. Yates, like several of his Mitchelton-Scott teammates, is based in Andorra. The visit to the principality will include a dirt road section in a short and mountainous stage. Though the section is not difficult, according to Yates, it will be a very different challenge in the midst of so many climbs.
“I’ve been along the off-road section in Andorra many times, it is actually a short-cut to go home and it isn’t as bad as it looks on its own, but to have it during a mountainous Andorra stage is very difficult,” said Yates. “There’s not only the Andorra stage that looks hard, there are a lot of stages with many, many metres of climbing that all look very difficult.
"It is a very typical Vuelta route, there’s quite a lot of stages back-to-back that are really, really hard. I would have to do more recon to know some of the stages in more details but as I say it looks very difficult.”