The Vuelta kicks off at August 23 with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera. Just like in recent years the climbers will have a good time in Spain, that said: the number of top finishes is diminished. In the 2013 edition it added up till 12, counting in 2014 stops at 8. Rest day 1 is at September 1 and the second rest day is at September 9.
The first genuine climbing is in stage 6 (La Zubia, top finish in Cumbres Verdes) and again in stage 9 (Valdelinaris). But the party really starts in the penultimate weekend with a trio of mountain stages. At September 6, stage 14 is a Vuelta debut with an arrival at La Camperona (Léon). The closing climb is a devil, counting up to a maximum gradient of 24% in the closing kilometres. Sunday September 7 and Monday 8 September welcome the Covandonga, an old acquaintance (hors catégorie), and the Farrapona in the route. The last ride may not be too long, it contains 5 cols of the 1st category.
Stage 10 is an individual time trial of 34.5 kilometres. The same week riders face 4 top finishes.
The penultimate stage leads to the Ancares pass (Por Pan do Zorco). Riders with GC ambitions will have to strike in this 163.8 kilometres leg. After preliminary skirmishes containing cols of the 2nd and 3rd category, the fireworks are saved for the final. In the closing 30 kilometres ascents of the 1st category and hors catégorie awaits the riders. The average gradient of the closing climb is 9.25% and the steepest parts are +20%.
The final stage (September 14) does not lead to Madrid, like it did in recent years, but to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia). It’s an individual time trial in 10 kilometres.
All in all, the Vuelta 2014 is perfectly suited for both Joaquím Rodríguez and Nairo Quintaina. Both announced they will be at the start in Jerez de la Frontera.
The full stage scheme, with detailed routes of all individual stages, is here.
Vuelta 2014: Images and more
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