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Vuelta 2020 to include Angliru, Tourmalet, stages in Portugal and Netherlands

Eight summit finishes, one time trial, one team time trial feature in Vuelta a Espana's route for 2020.

The 2020 Vuelta a Espana is set to include a rare trip to Portugal and summit finishes atop the fearsome Alto de L’Angliru and legendary Col du Tourmalet.

Race organizers confirmed the route of the Spanish grand tour at a presentation in Madrid, Tuesday. The Vuelta stayed true to its reputation by packing in the summit finishes, with eight stages ending on a climb. One of these summit finishes comes at the end of the race’s only time trial, a 33.5km test at the start of the third week.

The race kicks off August 14 with three stages based in Utrecht, Netherlands. As has become the norm, the race opens with a team time trial, this time of 23.3km. The following two stages in the Netherlands will see sprint finishes.

After a travel day, the race lands in Spain’s Basque country for stage 4. The race stays in the north-west of the country for a number of stages before dipping into France on stage 9 for a summit finish on the legendary Tour de France climb, the Col du Tourmalet.

The race then moves westwards, across the north of Spain, via a trip to the fearsome Angliru on stage 15. The action then moves through northern Portugal for two stages – the first time the Vuelta has visited its neighbor since 1997. The penultimate stage features the race’s final summit finish atop the gnarly, wild climb to Alto de la Covatilla before the traditional sprint stage in Madrid to close out the race.

The route is focussed entirely in the northern half of the country.

The first stand-out stage of the race is stage 4. This first day on Spanish soil comes with a testing finale, climbing to the line in Arrate, an iconic ascent of Basque cycling. Next to mark in the diary is stage 9, which starts in Spain and takes in three high mountains through its 136km route, with a finish on the 2,115m Col du Tourmalet in France.

Stages 14 and 15, which close out week two, could see huge shake-ups in the GC action. Stage 14 packs five categorized climbs with a finish on the category one Alto de Farrapona, while the next day – stage 15 – also features five climbs, all crammed into 109km. The stage finishes on the Alto de L’Angliru, one of the most feared climbs in Europe, with a 10 percent average gradient and ramps of over 25 percent through its 13-kilometer ascent.

The race’s only individual time trial, stage 16, is 33.5km, and though it starts out flat, finishes with a 2km, steep category three climb to the finish.

There are relatively few pan-flat stages after stages 2 and 3 in the Netherlands, wiih many stages including small climbs or rolling hills. However, there are opportunities for the sprinters sprinkled throughout the race, with five days that should be straightforward enough to allow the fast men to contest the finale.