The 3rd stage offers the first uphill finish. The Picón Blanco is 7.8 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 9.3%, while the steepest ramp – at 15% – appears just before the finish line.
Stage 4 travels to a slightly uphill finish in Molina de Aragón, which should fancy the likes of Michael Matthews. In stage 5 it is back to the pure sprinters, after which stage 6 finishes at a punchy climb to the Cullera Castle.
The second Sunday at La Vuelta serves a summit finish at the Alto de Velefique. The finale of stage 9 is an ascent of 13.2 kilometres with an average gradient of 7.3%
The second week opens with a race along the southern coast of Spain. The undulating course of the 10th stage is pepped up with a 5 kilometres climb at 8% and an ensuing drop down to the finish line.
The 11th stage runs on lumpy terrain to a punchy finish in Valdepeñas de Jáen, while stage 12 features two climbs inside the last 50 kilometres, making it (another) opportunity for attackers. Sprinters will be eyeing their chances on stage 13.
Which is out of the question in stage 14. The riders traverse hilly terrain to tackle the Pico de Villuercas in the remote region of Extremadura. The final ascent is 16.5 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 6.3%.
The 15th stage serves four intermediate climbs before a downhill finish in El Barraco.
Stage 16 finishes in Santa Cruz de Bezana in northern Spain, close to Santander, in a race for the sprinters.
Fireworks are to be expected on the 17th stage with a finale on the wildly irregular ascent to the Lagos de Covadonga, which was last included in 2018 (Thibaut Pinot victory).
On paper, stage 18 is even harder. Taking in an elevation gain of more than 5,000 metres, the race travels from Salas to the Alto de Gamoniteiro. The last 14.6 kilometres climb at almost 10% to the line.
Following a hilly opening, stage 19 traverses the flat to undulating roads to Monforte de Lemos before stage 20 goes from Sanxenxo to Mos, the Galician town where Óscar Pereiro – Tour de France winner in 2006 after Floyd Landis’ disqualification – was born. The race does not finish in the town itself, but at the 9.7 kilometres long Alto Castro de Herville.
The final stage of the 2021 Vuelta a España is an individual time trial. The undulating route is 33.8 kilometres long and finishes in Santiago de Compostela.
Vuelta a España 2021: route, profiles, more
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