Alberto Contador was in red, and in the red zone,...

Spanish rumor mill hints at a 2013 Vuelta a España that’s even hillier than ’12 edition

The Spanish national tour may take in both northern and southern Spain in 2013, with 12 summit finales

Next year’s Vuelta a España could be even more mountainous than this year’s climber’s delight, which included no fewer than 10 summit finales.

According to the Spanish sports daily AS, Vuelta officials were so pleased with how the 2012 Vuelta turned out that there will only be one individual time trial and 12 summit finales, two more than last year’s explosive and entertaining race, won by Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank).

The official course presentation is expected some time in mid-January in Galicia, but other media reports indicate that the 2013 Vuelta will take a very different look from this year’s version and perhaps even surpass this year’s mountainous parcours.

In 2012, the race stayed entirely in the northern half of Spain, with Madrid on the final day being its southern-most point.

For next year, AS reported that the Vuelta will take in both the south and north of Spain in a wild route that will include some long transfers and sweeps up and around the entire Iberian peninsula.

It is already confirmed the race will start in Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain, with four stages likely in the verdant region. According to AS, which is the official newspaper of the Vuelta, the route will head east into Castilla y León, where local media reports indicate where a stage will trace the circuit for the 2014 worlds in Ponferrada.

From there, the Vuelta drives south through the sun-baked plains of Extremadura and Andalucía before sweeping back north along the coast through Valencia and Catalunya, then dipping into Andorra and a possible return to the Collado de Gallina climb featured this year.

According to AS, the course then enters Aragón before returning to Castilla y León with a likely return to the climbs of northern Spain in Asturias and Cantabria with a transfer and finale once again in Madrid.

It appears that the opening weekend of the Spanish tour (August 24-September 15) will certainly live up to expectations.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the season’s third grand tour will open with a hilly team time trial in Spain’s scenic Galicia region.

The regional daily, La Voz de Galicia, reported over the weekend that Sansxexo will play host to the opening TTT on a demanding route of 20-30km.

To make things even more interesting, the race will start from a floating platform used to harvest mussels tied up alongside a dock on one of the narrow inlets called “rias” to make for some interesting TV visuals.

A second stage will finish up Monte Lobeira, a 1.6km summit with very steep ramps, similar to what this year’s Vuelta faced in stage 12 with the intense climb up the Mirador de Ézaro high above the rocky coast.

Talks about taking the Vuelta to the Canary islands off the coast of Africa are on hold until 2014 while organizers are still in negotiations to bring the 2015 Vuelta start to Emmen in the Drenthe region of the Netherlands.