Courtesy of La Vuelta - Click for larger image
The route of the 58h edition of cycling Tour of Spain ("Vuelta Ciclista a España") was officially unveiled
this Tuesday morning at 1130AM local time, in Madrid's Salón de Actos de IFEMA inside the Ferial Park Juan Carlos I.
As a way to celebrate the 25th edition organized by the UNIPUBLIC society (which also could happen to be the last one with Enrique Franco as race boss), several past winners of competitions, from 1979 Champion Jop Zoetemelk to Bernard Hinault, from legendary Pedro "Perico" Delgado
to 3-time winner Toni Rominger, from Irish sensation Sean Kelly to most recent champions Olano, Heras,
Casero and "TerminAitor" González were attending the ceremony, each of them "unveiling" a different leg.
Among the absentees, particularly worthy of a mention were Colombian "Lucho" Herrera (who managed to take part in the presentation thanks to an internet connection anyway) and Laurent Jalabert, both due to familiar reasons. And Jan Ullrich of course.
Details of the stages of the next race, set to start in the Asturian town of Gijón in the north of the country, and run from September 6-28, 2003, with the final lap as usual going into Madrid, are like this:
Stage 1 - September 06: Gijón-Gijón - 30 km. Team Time Trial.
Stage 2 - September 07: Gijón-Cangas de Onís, 140 km.
Stage 3 - September 08: Cangas de Onís-Santander, 160 km.
Stage 4 - September 09: Santander-Burgos, 158 km.
Stage 5 - September 10: Soria-Zaragoza, 165 km.
Stage 6 - September 11: Zaragoza-Zaragoza, 40 km. (ITT).
Stage 7 - September 12: Huesca-Cauterets (France), 190 km. - Uphill finish
Stage 8 - September 13: Cauterets-Pla de Beret, 166 km. Uphill finish.
Stage 9 - September 14: Vielha Val d'Aran-Andorra Envalira (Andorra Principality), 176 km. Uphill finish.
Stage 10 - September 15: Andorra-Sabadell, 179 km.
- September 16: Rest and Transfer Day.
Stage 11 - September 17: Utiel-Cuenca, 160.
Stage 12 - September 18: Cuenca-Albacete, 167 km.
Stage 13 - September 19: Albacete-Albacete, 53 km. (ITT).
Stage 14 - September 20: Albacete-Valdepeñas, 160km.
Stage 15 - September 21: Valdepeñas-La Pandera, 181 km. Uphill finish.
- September 22: Rest and Transfer Day.
Stage 16 - September 23: Jaén-Sierra Nevada, 162 km. Uphill finish.
Stage 17 - September 24: Granada-Córdoba, 180 km..
Stage 18 - September 25: Las Rozas-Las Rozas, 150 km.
Stage 19 - September 26: La Vega de Alcobendas-Collado Villalba, 166 km.
Stage 20 - September 27: San Lorenzo del Escorial-Alto de Abantos, 12 km. (ITT) Uphill ITT.
Stage 21 - September 28: Madrid-Madrid, 130 km.
TOTAL: 2925 km.:
Just like in the past edition, the race will get underway with a Team Time Trial, another possible ONCE vs. USPS match. But unlike both 2001 and 2002, next year's final ride will be an "average" road stage on the streets of Spain's capital city, and coming 24 hours after the main new feature of the 2003 Vuelta: a Mountain ITT finishing up to Alto de Abantos, in the "Sierra Madrileña" range. The Abantos ascent is not new to the Spanish contest, but for the first time riders will have to tackle it in a ride against the clock. Good for the Madrid-based fans, who will have no less than 4 stages held in their area.
The Abantos leg is just one out of the six stages that should be good for mountain goats, as the course is featured by no less than 5 more uphill arrivals, three of which on the Pyrenees (with two legs finishing abroad, to France's Cauterets - with riders also tackling the famous Aubisque climb - and the Principality of Andorra
respectively, plus the "Queen stage" going up to Pla de Beret in Catalunya).
And the other two uphill stages (coming in as many consecutive days) are in Andalusia: one finishing into La Pandera near Jaén (the first time the race hit the mountain winner was Roberto Heras, who should be pleased with this year's route) and the other being "usual", historical ride in Sierra Nevada, the place not far from Granada where last year a certain Aitor González Jiménez showed for the first time that he was in a condition good enough to win the race.
All things considered, we can say there's definitely
room for mountain goats, in spite of the absence of both the Angliru and Lagos de Covadonga ascents. And one more time organizers opted for shorter, but more spectacular stages.
Seems there's room also for the pure Time Triallists anyway, with chances for them in the opening TTT and two more legs conming quite early in the race (at least if compared to the Giro): stage 6 in Zaragoza, and stage 13, a ride of some 50 kms. against the clock, starting and finishing in the south-eastern town of Albacete, in Oscar Sevilla's Castilla-La Mancha region.
VUELTA 2003 - NUMBERS & DATA
2925 kms. of racing, scattered over 21 stages;
From 20 to 22 participating teams, each of them consisting of 9 riders;
8 predominantly flat stages;
5 Uphill finishes (plus the Uphill ITT into Abantos);
4 Mid-Mountain Stages;
4 Time Trials (1 Team Time Trial, 2 ITTs, 1 Mountain ITT);
2 Towns hosting a stage start for the first time (Utiel and Cauterets);
4 Towns hosting a stage finish for the first time (Cangas de Onís, Cauterets, Andorra-Envalira and Las Rozas)
VUELTA 2003 - MAIN DIFFICULTIES:
Alto de La Madera (350 mt.) - Cat. 3
Alto de La Faya de los Lobos (650 mt.) - Cat. 2
Alto Mirador del Fito (600 mt.) - Cat. 1
Collado de Carmona (620 mt.) - Cat. 2
Alto de San Cipriano (300 mt.) - Cat. 3
Puerto del Escudo (1010 mt.) - Cat. 1
Stage 7 - Click here for stage profile :
Alto del Monrepós (1280 mt.) - Cat. 2
Alto de Portalet (France - 1790 mt.) - Cat. 2
Col de Aubisque (France - 1700 mt.) - Hors Categorie
Cauterets (France - 1350 mt.) - Hors Categorie / Uphill Finish
Stage 8 - Click here for stage profile:
Col d' Aspin (France - 1490 mt.) - Cat. 1
Col de Peyresourde (France - 1570 mt.) - Cat. 1
Portillón (1290 mt.) - Cat. 1
Plá de Beret (1920 mt.) - Hors Categorie / Uphill Finish
Stage 9 - Click here for stage profile :
Port de La Bonaigua (2070 mt.) - Cat. 1
Alt del Cantó (1730 mt.) - Cat. 1
Envalira (Andorra - 2410 mt.) - Hors Categorie / Uphill Finish
Stage 15 - Click here for stage profile:
Alto de Los Villares (1210 mt.) - Cat. 2
Alto de La Pandera (1850 mt.) - Hors Categorie / Uphill Finish
Stage 16 - Click here for stage profile:
Alto de La Fuensanta (1150 mt.) - Cat. 3
Sierra Nevada (2510 mt.) - Hors Categorie / Uphill Finish
Stage 19 - Click here for stage profile:
San Lorenzo del Escorial (1050 mt.) - Cat. 3
Alto de Los Leones (1510 mt.) - Cat. 1
Alto de San Rafael (1300 mt.) - Cat. 3
Puerto de Navacerrada (1880 mt.) - Cat. 1
Stage 20 - Click here for stage profile:
Alto de Abantos (1650 mt.) - Cat. 1 / Uphill ITT Finish
All stage profiles courtesy of La
The Daily Peloton's coverage of the 2003 Vuelta a España presentation continues ... Check back later for more news and details of the race.