The 2021 Vuelta a Espana won’t finish in Madrid for the first time since 2014 after organisers announced the route today.
Riders will depart on August 14 from the 800-year-old Burgos Cathedral and will finish on September 5 in Santiago de Compostela.
In between, the peloton will navigate 21 stages, across 3 300km of terrain, with Slovenian Primoz Roglic gunning for a third consecutive Vuelta crown.
The Vuelta returns to its traditional late summer slot, despite the success of last year’s race in October and November after it was shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain’s grand tour, one of three in the cycling calendar along with the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, is famous for its brutal climbs, and the mountain stages will again be pivotal.
This year’s route includes eight high mountain finishes and 11 mountain stages, including a debut for the Asturian Gamoniteiru summit in Asturias.
After an opening time-trial through Burgos’ 13th-century Gothic cathedral, the Castilian capital will host two more stages before the first climb in Picon Blanco.
Riders will then descend south towards Valencia where the first serious mountain stage will arrive in stage seven.
While the first half of the race looks noticeably easier than last year, the second half is appreciatively tougher.
The 18th stage could prove crucial in deciding the overall general classification when riders face the 1 700m Alto del Gamoniteiru, with a brutal 15km climb at inclines of 10 to 12 per cent.
The race concludes for the first time in nearly two decades with an individual time-trial over 33.7km between Padron and Santiago de Compostela.
Vuelta a Espana 2021 route:
Stage 1: Saturday August 14 – Burgos – Burgos (ITT), 8km
Stage 2: Sunday August 15 – Calaruega – Burgos, 169.5km
Stage 3: Monday August 16 – Santo Domingo de Silos – Picon Blanco, 203km
Stage 4: Tuesday August 17 – El Burgo de Osma – Molina de Aragón, 163.6km
Stage 5: Wednesday August 18 – Tarancon – Albacete, 184.4km
Stage 6: Thursday August 19 – Requena – Alto de Cullera, 159km
Stage 7: Friday August 20 – Gandia – Puerto de Tibi, 152km
Stage 8: Saturday August 21 – Santa Pola – La Manga del Mar Menor, 163.3km
Stage 9: Sunday August 22 – Puerto Lumbreras – Velefique, 187km
Rest day: Monday August 23
Stage 10: Tuesday August 24 – Roquetas de Mar – Rincon de la Victoria, 190.2km
Stage 11: Wednesday August 25 – Antequera – Valdepeñas de Jaen, 131km
Stage 12: Thursday August 26 – Jaen – Cordoba, 166.7km
Stage 13: Friday August 27 – Belmez – Villanueva de la Sierra, 197.2km
Stage 14: Saturday August 28 – Don Benito – Pico de Villuercas, 159.7km
Stage 15: Sunday August 29 – Navalmoral de la Mata – El Barraco, 193.4km
Rest day: Monday August 30
Stage 16: Tuesday August 31 – Laredo – Santa Cruz de Bezana, 170.8km
Stage 17: Wednesday September 1 – Unquera – Lagos de Covadonga, 181.6km
Stage 18: Thursday September 2 – Salas – Alto de Gamoniteiru, 159.2km
Stage 19: Friday September 3 – Tapia – Monforte de Lemos, 187.8km
Stage 20: Saturday September 4 – Sanxenxo – Mos, 173km
Stage 21: Sunday September 5 – Padron – Santiago de Compostela (ITT), 33.7km