Vuelta a España 2019 route: Two time trials and nine possible summit finishes in 74th edition

Adam Yates on stage 11 of the 2018 Vuelta a España (Sunada) - Cycling Weekly
Adam Yates on stage 11 of the 2018 Vuelta a España (Sunada) Cycling Weekly

The race director has confirmed more details for the 2019 edition of the race

The Vuelta a España route will be “more spicy” in 2019 after an Alicante depart in its first week, a detour through France and an inclusion of three new summit finishes.

Next year’s race will feature two time trials and up to nine summit finishes, the race director has told Cycling Weekly.  

Vuelta director Javier Guillén outlined some details and others are surfacing via local media in Spain.

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Already in August, organiser Unipublic announced the 2019 Vuelta would start on the Costa Blanca shore’s in Alicante. The province will host three stages, with the first – a time trial – starting in Torrevieja.

There will be a time trial on the opening day, although organisers have not decided if it will be individual or a team effort.

A second longer time trial – between 30 and 40km – will be scheduled for later in the race possibly in the second week, rumoured for the race’s French stages in Pau.

Guillén told Cycling Weekly: “In Alicante, we would like to offer many different kinds of race.

“First stage is going to be a time trial. We have to decide if it’s team time trial or individual time trial.

“It’s something that’s not absolutely decided.

“The second day is a Sunday and we would like to combine the sea and the mountains. In Alicante we have very good mountains in terms of quality for cycling and we would like to take advantage of that .

“The third day is maybe the day the stage could finish in a sprint. But also we’ll go to the inner of the province, so the difficulty of the mountains, not big mountains but different mountains we’re proposing along the route gives the possibility to say for sure it’s going to be a sprint stage.”

On the Alicante opening, Guillén said: “In Alicante we have many things we are looking for.

“We get a lot of crowds on the route, there are a lot of people in Alicante in August time, it’s a territory for people to take holiday in summertime.

“Also we have the sea and the sea is very strong in terms of images for TV. It’s something that everybody really appreciates.

“The second very important reason is that Alicante is the second province in terms of being mountainous. It’s the second most mountainous region in Spain.

“The Vuelta is a race that’s always looking for the sky. We are looking for mountains, for hills, this kind of difficult thing in cycling.

“In Alicante we have in only one province all we need.”

Nairo Quintana on the Vuelta a España 2018 opening time trial (Sunada) - Cycling Weekly
Nairo Quintana on the Vuelta a España 2018 opening time trial (Sunada) Cycling Weekly

The race will set off from Torrevieja on August 24, with three stages in Alicante both inland and along the coast.

This will be the sixth time the race has started from the province and the first time in Torrevieja.

“[The 2019 route will have] more of the same because it works, with new territories, new cities, two to three new summit finishes,” Guillén said. “The first week will be más picante and the second and third will follow the model, and we will look for a strong penultimate mountain stage.”

Cycling Weekly understands the race will not visit Andalusia as in years past. In 2018, it began in Málaga and spent several days in the area known for its heat, olives and Moorish influence.

Instead, it could spin around Valencia, Murcia and Castile-La Mancha before a push north. It should visit two other countries, Andorra and France. Two to three stages could take place on the other side of the Pyrénées and perhaps a rest day in Pau, which so often hosts the Tour de France on its rest days.

Chris Froome (Sky), Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) will be interested in the length of the rumoured time trial in Pau. The longer the better as they could try to overcome the new generation that filled out the Vuelta’s top three spots: Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana).

Guillén looks forward to the visit in to France, noting the “successful” Aubisque climb in 2016 and Nîmes start in 2017.

Riders ascend the Col d'Aubisque in the 2016 Vuelta a España (Sunada) - Yuzuru Sunada
Riders ascend the Col d'Aubisque in the 2016 Vuelta a España (Sunada) Yuzuru Sunada

He could use the famous French cols as one of summit finish stages – nine filled out the 2018 route. He promised three new ones in 2019. Cycling Weekly understands from one source that the Basque Country or Asturias could provide Guillén his needed ammunition.

Yates won the newly introduced Les Praeres climb, sitting in Asturias and only paved shortly before the 2018 Vuelta’s arrival. The area could hold other new gems, as too could the cycling-mad Basque Country that produced the Balcón de Bizkaia finish.

The 2019 Vuelta, said one source, could return to the steep Angliru summit finish last conquered by Alberto Contador in 2017 in his farewell Grand Tour.

The Vuelta’s camino would then travel west and south. Cantabria, Galicia and Castile and León could welcome the tour, as well. Madrid, as with nearly every edition, should host the final sprint stage and celebrations for the 2019 victor.

Details were revealed at the World Travel Market show in central London and the full route will be unveiled on December 19.