In line with tradition the 2017 Vuelta a España begins with a team time trial. Start and finish of stage 1 are in the French city Nîmes and the distance is 13.7 kilometres – which is much shorter than in 2016, when the TTT was almost 28 kilometres. The 2nd stage is played out in France also – on a flat route to Gruissan – before the riders cross the Pyrenees in stage 3. The first mountainous leg of this year’s Vuelta takes in three intermediate climbs to finish downhill in Andorra before stage 4 travels through Catalonia to a likely sprint finish on the Mediterranean coast.
Stage 5 leads to a punchy last climb and summit finish near Ermita Santa Lucia, while stage 6 takes in five intermediate climbs before the race ends with a long descent. In the 7th stage the riders travel to an interesting finale in Cuenca – steep cobbles and drop to the line – before stage 8 brings an equally challenging finish at Xorret del Cati; 3 kilometres with double digit grades, a short drop, and slightly uphill last kilometre. Stage 9 runs to the steep Alto de Puig Llorença in Cumbre del Sol, where Tom Dumoulin bested Chris Froome in 2015.
The first rest day of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana is on Monday 28 August. The second rest day is one week later, on 4 September.
After giving the hot south a cold shoulder in 2016, the 2017 Vuelta a Espana is bound to visit Andalucia in the second week. Stage 10 takes in a two-barreled ascent that’s crested with 21 kilometres left to the line in Alhama de Murcia, while stage 11 leads to Calar Alto at 2,155 metres above sea level; the last climb is 15.5 kilometres at 6%.
Stage 12 starts on the Costa Tropical and following two intermediate climbs the finish is downhill in Antequera. In the 13th stage it’s back to the fast men – that is, if they survive a few uphill stretches in the finale -, before it’s climbers alert again in the next two stages. Stage 14 travels to a summit finish at La Pandera after a tough and irregular 12 kilometres climb, while stage 15 runs the to the top of the Alto Hoya de la Mora – a closing climb of 28.4 kilometres at 5.9%.
At 40.2 kilometres, an individual time trial is the first challenge in the last week. The starting ramp is installed on the Circuito de Navarra near Los Arcos and the finish is in Logroño. Then Cantabria should be up for some spectacle. Los Machucos, aka Collado de la Espina, brings its steepest sections of 26% to the table in stage 17, while stage 18 travels to the monastery of Santo Toribio, which means a summit finish after 2.2 kilometres climb that is averaging 9.3%. The 19th stage runs on a hilly course to a downhill run-in to Gijón. In the 20th stage the feared and revered Angliru will make its come back after a last appearance in the 2013 Vuelta, when Kenny Elissonde climbed to victory. Before tackling that brutal monster the riders face back-to-back climbs up the Alto de Cobertoria (8.1 kilometres at 8.6%) and Alto de Cordal (5.7 kilometres at 8.6%). Then the Vuelta bids goodbye in style. Alto de El Angliru is a 12.5 kilometres torture at 9.8%, while the steepest ramp of 23.6% goes by the significant name Cueña les Cabres, or goat path.
The 2017 Vuelta a España is set to close with an evening stage to Madrid.
Vuelta a España 2017: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Stage 9: Cumbre del Sol
Stage 17: Los Machucos
Stage 15: Alto Hoya de la Mora
Stage 20: Alto de l’Angliru