Vuelta a Espana to include 11 summit finishes in 2013
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 12/01/13 2:00pm
Alberto Contador: Won a thrilling 2012 Vuelta
The 2013 Vuelta a Espana will be one of the hardest Grand Tours in recent history after a route containing 11 summit finishes was unveiled in Vigo on Saturday.
Organisers are keen to build on the success of the 2012 edition, when 10 summit finishes made for three thrilling weeks of racing, and have laid out a parcours that promises to be just as compelling.
A potentially decisive penultimate stage will end on the Alto de L'Angliru, which is widely regarded as one of the steepest and most challenging climbs in Western Europe, while the race will also cross over into France for the first time in a decade for an ascent to Peyragudes in the Pyrenees.
Two previously unused climbs in Andalucia have also been included, as has a trip to Andorra in an anti-clockwise circuit around Spain.
The race will feature only two time trials, with a 27km team time trial on the opening stage being followed by a 38km individual time trial on stage 11.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez, who led for much of the 2012 Vuelta before eventually finishing third, said: "The battle for general classification will start from the very beginning, so I expect this Vuelta to be very spectacular."
The route appears tailor-made for pure climbers such as Rodriguez, 2012 winner Alberto Contador or Chris Froome, but is far less suited to Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins, who has previously stated his ambition to win the Vuelta before retirement.
The 2012 Tour de France winner has traditionally struggled on Europe's steepest climbs and cracked on the merciless Angliru during the 2011 Vuelta, which was won by Spain's Juan Jose Cobo.
But Wiggins may not be alone in wincing at the prospect of riding this year's edition. The likes of Contador, Froome, Rodriguez, Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans all appear to be targeting victory at the mountainous centenary Tour de France and are unlikely to be attracted by the prospect of contesting another punishing Grand Tour just a month a later.
That could open the door for other three-week stage-race riders to make their mark, with Garmin-Sharp's Ryder Hesjedal no doubt seeing it as a potential opportunity to claim a second Grand Tour triumph after matching some of the world's top climbers on the way to winning the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
The 2013 Vuelta runs from August 24 to September 15, starting in Vigo and ending in Madrid.
2013 Vuelta a Espana
August 24, Stage 1: Team time trial, Vilanova de Arousa - Sanxenxo
August 25, Stage 2: Pontevedra - Alto da Groba
August 26, Stage 3: Vigo - Mirador de Lobeira
August 27, Stage 4: Lain - Fisterra
August 28, Stage 5: Sober - Lago de Sanabria
August 29, Stage 6: Guijuelo - Caceres
August 30, Stage 7: Almendralejo - Mairena de Aljafare
August 31, Stage 8: Jerez de la Frontera
September 1, Stage 9: Antequera - Valdepeñas de Jaén
September 2, Stage 10: Torredelcampo - Haza Llanas
September 3: Rest day
September 4, Stage 11: Individual time trial, Tarazona
September 5, Stage 12: Maella - Tarragona
September 6, Stage 13: Valls - Castelldefels
September 7, Stage 14: Baga - Coll de la Gallina
September 8, Stage 15: Andorra - Peyragudes
September 9, Stage 16: Graus - Formigal
September 10: Rest day
September 11, Stage 17: Calahorra - Burgos
September 12, Stage 18: Burgos - Peña Cabarga
September 13, Stage 19: San Vicente de la Barquera - Naranco
September 14, Stage 20: Aviles - Angliru
September 15, Stage 21: Leganés - Madrid