Madrid - The
Vuelta a Espana organisers unveiled an international route on Tuesday
with Spanish cycling's grand tour embarking from the Netherlands before
side excursions into France and Portugal on the 2020 itinerary.
The action begins with an agenda-setting team time trial in the Dutch
city of Utrecht on August 14 and culminates 3 245km, 21 stages and
three potentially thrilling weeks later in Madrid on September 6.
As well as three Dutch stages the route also features cycling's
mythical Col de Tourmalet in France where Thibaut Pinot won a stage
ahead of Julian Alaphilippe on the 2019 Tour de France.
For the first time since 1997 the route also takes in two stages in Portugal, including the only stage over 200km.
The route is also notable for excluding the sweltering South altogether.
Slovenia's Primoz Roglic is the defending champion while runner-up
veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is likely to race the Tour de France
and the Olympics in July before retiring.
The 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar will be a focus of attention after
winning three stages, the white jersey and finishing third overall on
his breakout Vuelta in September.
A traditionally gruelling race, in its 75th edition, the route
includes seven steep climbs, one fewer than last year, as well as 11
stages that feature medium-to-high mountains in Spain and France.
Pure climbers such as the Colombians Nairo Quintana and Miguel Angel
Lopez, both present at the unveiling ceremony, wills see plenty of scope
to plot their campaigns despite the two longish time-trials.
"La Vuelta remains faithful to its commitment to innovation and to
its dedication to being international," said the event's director
general Javier Guillen.
"In 2020, we will undoubtedly host be one of the most European sports
events, visiting four EU countries: the Netherlands, Spain, France, and
"Spain is still our home, the place that reminds us where we came
from and where we are headed but it also pushes us to grow as a
competition and to progress even further."
There will be eight flat stages and 11 hill and mountain stages, as well as one individual time trial and one team trial.
Roglic pulverised his rivals on the time-trials last season, and will likely be pleased with the 2020 route.
But with fearsome summit finishes posted at the Sanctuary of Arrate,
Laguna Negra, Tourmalet, Moncalvillo, La Farrapona, Angliru, Mirador de
Ezaro and La Covatilla, Roglic will have much to fear from the climb
The early stages in the Netherlands will favour the sprinters before
the climbs begin in Spain's Basque country from stage four, with an 18km
ascent in stage six that will end at Laguna Negra.
Stage nine and 10 offer more mountain challenges, with the former
posing a 19km climb of the Col du Tourmalet at a gradient of 7.4 per
cent and the latter finishing at Moncalvillo after a 15km climb, the
last eight kilometres at an unforgiving 9.2 per cent.
After some welcome respite for the sprinters, stage 15 perhaps
presents the most formidable phase of the course, as a section of the
Cuena les Cabres includes 3km at a lung-busting 23.5 per cent gradient.
Stage 18 will leave Spain for Portugal before the 20th stage brings
the final summit finish at La Covatilla. The sprint to the line in
Madrid will conclude at the Plaza de Cibeles at the end of stage 21.
The 21 stages of the 2020 Vuelta a España, which organisers unveiled in Madrid on Tuesday:
August 14 - 1st stage: Utrecht - Utrecht, 23.3km (team time-trial)
August 15 - 2nd stage: 's-Hertogenbosch - Utrecht, 181.6km
August 16 - 3rd stage: Breda - Breda, 193.2km
August 17 - Rest Day
August 18 - 4th stage: Irun - Arrate, Eibar, 169.5km
August 19 - 5th stage: Pamplona - Lekunberri, 151km
August 20 - 6th stage: Lodosa - La Laguna Negra, 163.8km
August 21 - 7th stage: Garray - Ejea de los Caballeros, 190km
August 22 - 8th stage: Huesca - Sabinanigo, 185.5km
August 23 - 9th stage: Biescas - Col du Tourmalet, 135.6km
August 24 - Rest Day
August 25 - 10th stage: Vitoria - Villanueva de Valdegovia, 160.4 km
August 26 - 11th stage: Logrono - Alto de Moncalvillo, 164.5km
August 27 - 12th stage: Castrillo del Val - Aguilar de Campoo, 163.6km
August 28 - 13th stage: Castro Urdiales - Suances, 187.4km
August 29 - 14th stage: Villaviciosa - Alto de la Farrapona, Lagos de Somiedo, 170.2km
August 30 - 15th stage: Pola de Laviana - Alto de L'Angliru, 109.2km
August 31 - Rest Day
September 1 - 16th stage: Muros - Mirador de Ézaro. Dumbría, 33.5 km (time-trial)
September 2 - 17th stage: Lugo - Ourense, 205.8 km
September 3 - 18th stage: Mos - Porto, 178km
September 4 - 19th stage: Viseu - Ciudad Rodrigo, 177.7km
September 5 - 20th stage: Sequeros - Alto de la Covatilla, 175.8km
September 6 - 21st stage: Hipedromo de la Zarzuela - Madrid, 125.4km
The last 10 winners of the Vuelta a Espana:
2019: Primoz Roglic (SLO)
2018: Simon Yates (GBR)
2017: Chris Froome (GBR)
2016: Nairo Quintana (COL)
2015: Fabio Aru (ITA)
2014: Alberto Contador (ESP)
2013: Chris Horner (USA)
2012: Alberto Contador (ESP)
2011: Chris Froome (GBR) (*)
2010: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
(*) In July Chris Froome was named winner of the 2011 Vuelta
following the confirmation of Juan Jose Cobo's three-year ban for doping