The Vuelta a España 2016 route features no fewer than ten new summit finishes and a 29.4km team time trial to kick it all off
AS, the official newspaper of the race, leaked the unofficial route 36 hours before organiser Unipublic officially presented the 2016 edition on Saturday, 13:00 local time in Santiago de Compostela
Last month, the newspaper already reported that the race would finish on top of 10 climbs – one more than the 2015 route. It confirmed the names of the final two climbs: Formigal (stage 15) and Mas de la Costa (stage 17) on Friday.
Mas de la Costa, in the Valencian Community, follows the rest day and averages 15% for four kilometres, kicking to 22% at times.
Mirador de Ézaro (stage three) and La Camperona (stage eight) shoot towards the sky quicker. Mirador de Ézaro’s ramps of 29%, averaging 13.1 over 2km, saw some riders dismount and walk in the fourth stage of 2013. La Camperona, 7.5% over 8.3km, reaches 24%.
The 10 summit finishes of 2016: Ézaro (stage 3), San Andrés de Teixido (4), La Camperona (8), Naranco (9), Lagos (10), Peña Cabarga (11), Col d’Aubisque (14), Formigal (15), Mas de Costa (17) and Alto de Aitana (20).
Watch: Four ways to nail any climb
Unipublic will go easy on the 22 teams after hearing complaints in 2015 of long transfers between stages and on rest days. Instead of visiting the entire Iberian Peninsula, director Javier Guillen limited the journey to Spain’s north, and by doing so created a compact route that eases stress and lowers petrol consumption. The furthest south the peloton will race is the Aitana climb at the end of stage 20.
A 29.4km team time trial will start the race on August 20 and in the third week, on the Friday before Aitana and the Sunday sprint finish in Madrid, a long individual time trial will sort the classification. The riders will tackle a 39km route along the windy coast from Jávea to Calpe.
“We don’t care who makes it to the highest step on the podium,” said Vuelta race director Javier Guillén. “But if I can make a wish now, eight months before the grand depart, I would like for the excitement and equality to increase as the stages progress and, finally, I would love for the climb to the Alto de Aitana to really decide who will win the next edition of the Vuelta.”
Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) – who has yet to announce whether he’ll take part in the race or not – gave a measured verdict on the route, saying: “2016 will be the toughest year to reach the Vuelta in good form. After the Tour, it will be very tough to rest because of the Olympic Games. It will be much more difficult, compared to previous years, to fully recover in order to start the Vuelta in top shape.
“This year’s parcours has many explosive finishes that aren’t ideal for me, in particular due to the bonus seconds. ”
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) took over the race lead in last year’s long time trial in Burgos, but Italian Fabio Aru (Astana) dropped him on the final mountain day to win the general classification.
Mark Cavendish may have called the 2015 edition ‘stupid’ with its high number of climbs, but Unipublic drew in every major classification star with the exception of Alberto Contador, who skipped it after racing both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
With a climbers’ route planned for the 2016 Olympic Games, those top stars who race the Tour and travel to Rio de Janeiro like Chris Froome may think twice about the Vuelta.
It is early in the season, with the first WorldTour race the Tour Down Under still to start in a week and a half, so it is hard to say who will line up in Ourense.
So far only Colombians Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) have said that they will race. Besides Froome, possible starters should include 2010 winner Vincenzo Nibali and Astana team-mate Aru, and Dumoulin.
Vuelta a España 2016 route
Stage 1: August 20, Laias do Miño (Ourense), team time trial, 29.4km
Stage 2: August 21, Ourense – Baiona, 159km
Stage 3: August 22, Marin – Mirador de Ézaro (summit), 170km
Stage 4: August 23, Betanzos – S.A de Teixido (Cedeira) (summit), 161km
Stage 5: August 24, Viveiro – Lugo, 170km
Stage 6: August 25, Monforte – Lunitra (Ribera Sacra), 163km
Stage 7: August 26, Maceda – Puebla de Sanabria, 158.3km
Stage 8: August 27, Villalpando – La Camperona (summit), 177km
Stage 9: August 28, Cistierna – Naranco (Oviedo) (summit), 165km
Stage 10: August 29, Lugones – Lagos de Covadonga (summit), 186.6km
Rest day, August 30
Stage 11: August 31, Colunga. Museo Jurásico – Peña Cabarga (summit), 168.6km
Stage 12: September 1, Corrales de Buelna – Bilbao, 193.2km
Stage 13: September 2, Bilbao – Urdax (Navarra), 212.8km
Stage 14: September 3, Urdax – Aubisque (France) (summit), 195.6km
Stage 15: September 4, Sabiñanigo – Formigal (summit), 120km
Stage 16: September 5, Alcañiz – Peñicola, 158km
Rest day, September 6
Stage 17: September 7, Castellón – Mas de la Costa (summit), 173.3km
Stage 18: September 8, Requena – Gandia, 191km
Stage 19: September 9, Jávea – Calpe, individual time trial, 39km
Stage 20: September 10, Benidorm – Alto de Aitana (summit), 184km
Stage 21: September 11, Las Rozas – Madrid, 102.5km
3,277.3km in total
Vuelta a España 2015 route
The Vuelta a Espana 2015 will mark the 70th edition of the Spanish Grand Tour with the inclusion of nine new summit finishes.
This year’s race will include a long flat time trial, something that the organiser Javier Guillén knew would appeal to Tour de France champion Chris Froome. With Froome’s inclusion in the race now confirmed, Guillén described it as ‘the icing on the cake’.
Organiser Unipublic presented the route on Saturday, January 10, in Málaga, just down the road from where the race will begin on August 22.
Vuelta Director Javier Guillén promised Froome a long and flat time trial after he lost the 2014 edition to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 70 seconds.
Froome, according to Guillén, was frustrated by the 36.7-kilometre time trial to Borja. It included a category three climb to 1000 metres and saw Froome concede 53 seconds to Contador.
The time trial may not matter with nine summit finishes. One stage will take place completely in neighbouring Andorra, covering only 138 kilometres but climbing 5230 metres.
Unipublic made a difficult and bold move to celebrate its 80th year. It would have had to find new towns willing to put up money to host stage finishes while ignoring fans who celebrate the known and famous climbs like Lagos de Covadonga and L’Angliru.
The Vuelta, however, will cover new ground every time it finishes uphill: Caminito del Rey (stage 2), Vejer de la Frontera (4), Cazorla (6), Capileira (7), Cumbre del Sol (9), Cortals d’Encamp (11), Fuente del Chivo (14), Sotres (15) and Ermita del Alba (16). The favourites will have to be on their toes because four of the nine finishes come in the race’s opening week.
The course crosses through Andalucía, Murcia and Valencia before transferring north to Andorra for its first rest day. It then skips around northern Spain and finish with a circuit race in the country’s capital of Madrid.
Defending champion Contador will not race in the Vuelta a España this year, having won the Giro d’Italia in May and finished fifth in the Tour de France in July.
Vuelta a España 2015 route
Vuelta a España 2015: Stages
Stage 1, August 22, Puerto Banús to Marbella, 7.4km TTT
Stage 2, August 23, Alhaurín de la Torre to Caminito del Rey (summit), 158.7km
Stage 3, August 24, Mijas to Málaga, 158.4km
Stage 4, August 25, Estepona to Vejer de la Frontera (summit), 213.6km
Stage 5, August 26, Rota to Alcalá de Guadaira, 167.3km
Stage 6, August 27, Córdoba to Sierra de Cazorla (summit), 200.3km
Stage 7, August 28, Jódar to La Alpujarra (summit), 191.1km
Stage 8, August 29, Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia, 182.5km
Stage 9, August 30, Torrevieja-Cumbre del Sol. Benitachell (summit), 1683.km
Stage 10, August 31, Valencia-Castellón, 146.6km
September 1, rest day in Andorra
Stage 11, September 2, Andorra la Vella to Cortals d´Encamp (summit), 138km
Stage 12, September 3, Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra to Lleida, 173km
Stage 13, September 4, Calatayud to Tarazona, 177km
Stage 14, September 5, Vitoria to Fuente del Chivo (summit), 215km
Stage 15, September 6, Comillas to Sotres (summit), 175.8km
Stage 16, September 7, Luarca to Ermita del Alba (summit), 185km
September 8, rest day in Burgos
Stage 17, September 9, Burgos to Burgos. 38.7km ITT
Stage 18, September 10 , Roa to Riaza, 204km
Stage 19, September 11, Medina del Campo to Ávila, 185.5km
Stage 20, September 12, San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla, 175.8km
Stage 21, September 13, Alcalá de Henares to Madrid, 97.8km