The Vuelta a España unveiled its 2017 route Thursday in Madrid, with nine summit finishes on the menu. That is one less than in 2016 – but an increased number of longer final ascents through the high mountains of Andalucía, Cantabria and Asturias, should make the Spanish Grand Tour even more of a race for the out-and-out climbers.
Most of the route details emerged prior to the official presentation. The unveiling confirmed the specifics, including the return of Spain’s toughest single climb, the Angliru, to the race, while also filling in a few unknown start/finish locations as well as stage distances.
Overall, the biggest change compared to 2016 is that although the Vuelta retains its trademark characteristic of the greatest number of summit finishes of the three Grand Tours, five of them – two more than in 2016 – will be ’serious' high-mountain climbs.
Calar Alto and Sierra Nevada, both ascents of more than 20 kilometres long, together with La Pandera will form a trio of challenging summit finishes in Andalucía, in the Vuelta’s second week.
The final contest will take place on the opposite end of Spain in the last six days, with one new climb, the unprecedented 14-kilometre ascent to Los Machucos in Cantabria, preceding the Angliru showdown on the final Saturday.
Punchier, explosive climbs or shorter final ascents are reduced in number from six in 2016 to four in 2017, and one of those on next September’s route, the Xorret de Cati, will be followed by a short, fast descent. The Vuelta’s first week is also less tough overall than in 2016.
Another unusual feature for the Vuelta is its Grand Départ in France, the first start abroad since the Vuelta got underway in the Netherlands in 2009. Other more traditional features include an opening team time trial, a mid-length individual time trial in the third week and a finish in Madrid. The race route also includes an unwelcome return of some very long transfers, including a 800-km trek from Sierra Nevada to Logroño and a 400-km drive from the Angliru to Madrid.
Vuelta a España 2017 route:
Saturday, August 19th – stage 1: Nîmes (France), 13.8km (TTT)
Sunday, August 20th – stage 2: Nîmes (France) - Gruissan (France), 201km
Monday, August 21st – stage 3: Prades (France) - Andorra la Vella (Andorra), 158.5km
Tuesday, August 22nd – stage 4: Escaldes (Andorra) - Tarragona (Spain), 193km
Wednesday, August 23rd – stage 5: Benicassim - Ermita Santa Lucia, 173.4km (summit finish 1)
Thursday, August 24th – stage 6: Vila Real - Sagunto, 198km
Friday, August 25th – stage 7: Lliria - Cuenca, 205.2km
Saturday, August 26th – stage 8: Hellín - Xorret de Catí, 184km (summit finish 2)
Sunday, August 27th – stage 9: Orihuela - Cumbres del Sol, 176.3km (summit finish 3)
Monday, August 28th – first rest day
Tuesday, August 29th – stage 10: Caravaca de la Cruz - ElPozo Alimentación, 171km
Wednesday, August – stage 11: Lorca - Calar Alto, 188km (summit finish 4)
Thursday, August 31st – stage 12: Motril - Antequera, 161.4km
Friday, September 1st – stage 13 Coín - Tomares, 197km
Saturday, September 2nd – stage 14: Écija - La Pandera, 185.5km (summit finish 5)
Sunday, September 3rd – stage 15: Alcalá la Real - Sierra Nevada, 127km (summit finish 6)
Monday, September 4th – second rest day: transfer
Tuesday, September 5th – stage 16: Circuito de Navarra - Logroño, 42km (ITT)
Wednesday, September 6th – stage 17: Villadiego - Los Machucos, 180km (summit finish 7)
Thursday, September 7th – stage 18: Suances - Santo Toribio de Liébana, 168.5km (summit finish 8)
Friday, September 8th – stage 19: Caso - Gijon, 153km
Saturday, September 9th – stage 20: Corvera - Angliru, 119.2km (summit finish 9)
Sunday, September 10th – stage 21: Arroyomolinos - Madrid, 101.9km
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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