The 2014 Vuelta a Espana features eight mountain finishes, three time trials and for the first time in 21 years, an ending outside of Madrid. Organiser Unipublic presented the Spanish Grand Tour, running August 23 to September 14, yesterday in Cadiz.
“We continue with what works,” race director, Javier Guillén told Spanish news agency EFE. “We have our model for the Vuelta, our own personality. People know that we support the mountains, look for unknown finishes and mix novelty with tradition. This country offers great places to make a good stage race.”
The race kicks off in the south of Spain near Cadiz with a 12.6-kilometre team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera. A 10-kilometre time trial finishes the race three weeks later in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest. The race traditionally ends with a sprint stage in Madrid. It last skipped the capital city in 1993, again travelling to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
The organiser also programmed a time trial, this time long at 34.5 kilometres midway into the race. It comes on September 2, the day after the first of two rest days.
The Vuelta makes tight steps and avoids big transfers between stages. Its only long haul occurs between around the two northbound stages before the rest day and long time trail.
It goes lighter on the mountain finishes, four less than last year, but still features eight. These days could decide the race, especially the three consecutive stages, 14 to 16, that mostly run in Asturias.
Guillén includes four “unknown” summit finishes: La Zubia in the south and San Miguel de Aralar, La Camperona and Monte Castrove in the north.
“The Camperona stands out,” Guillén said. The final three kilometres includes grades of 24%. “This is a short climb but hard, explosive, which lends itself to the TV show. La Zubia feature a nice run through the city and we return to Navarre, Miguel Indurain’s home.”
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) called it harder than the edition he won in 2012. He likes it, though, as the finishes are less explosive.
“It is even harder than 2012,” the Spaniard said in a press release. “Harder in that many finishes are even longer than those in 2012, and that encourages me because it’s not as explosive. The riders with more explosiveness can always take time on me in a kilometre with a huge percentage [grade].”
Defending champion Chris Horner skipped the event. The 42-year-old American became the oldest Grand Tour winner, then 41, last September.
“The organisation invited him,” Guillén said according to Belgian newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad. “We respect him as the winner of the last edition. We do not know why he is not present. Maybe it is due to not having a team.”
Horner rode with RadioShack last season. He remains without a contract for this season and according to Danish newspaper BT, may join third division team Christina Watches.