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The Vuelta a España continues to seek out unfamiliar territory, and it has included five summit finishes that are new to the race for 2019. The full route was confirmed Wednesday in Madrid, and as always, the Spanish tour will be a climber’s delight.
As well as those five new mountaintop finishes, the Vuelta packs a whopping 59 categorized climbs into its 3,272km route, August 24-September 15, 2019. That is 13 more climbs than the 2018 race.
The race will begin on the Mediterranean coast in Torrevieja, near Alicante. After the flat 18km stage 1 team time trial, the race will run two other stages in the region between there and Benidorm.
As it moves up the coast, the Vuelta’s first formidable uphill finish will be on stage 5, a 165.6km race essentially from sea level to the top of Alto de Javalambre, at 1,950 meters. The first week concludes with a short, explosive stage in Andorra. Practically all of stage 9 is above 1,000 meters in elevation and the 96.6km stage includes five categorized climbs.
Right after the first rest day, GC riders who aren’t pure climbers will have a chance to offer a rebuttal in stage 10’s 36.1km time trial around Pau, France.
The following week includes a blend of rolling, flat, and mountain stages. Stage 13 is perhaps the most notable of the latter kind, finishing atop the famous Los Machucos climb after 167.3km. To make matters worse — or better for pure climbers — there are six categorized climbs leading up to the beyond-category summit finish.
Week two wraps up with a one-two punch of mountain days on stages 15 and 16 to Puerto del Acebo and Alto de la Cubilla, respectively.
The final five days of racing are relatively tame by Vuelta standards. Just stages 18 and 20 appear to offer enough climbing to mix up the final race for the red leader’s jersey.
In keeping with tradition, the Vuelta finishes with a flat stage to Madrid.