That won’t come until January at the official presentation of the season’s third grand tour, but that’s not stopping speculation about how the Spanish tour will look next season.
There’s talk of under-the-lights time trials, new summit finishes, fewer transfers, and even more climbing.
While the details of the 2014 route remain under lock and key, the spirit of the Vuelta will remain in line with how the race has looked over the past few editions: steep and explosive.
Vuelta boss Javier Guillén told VeloNews at the conclusion of this year’s edition that the Spanish tour will continue its focus on climbing and punchy uphill finales.
“The Vuelta has its own style and personality,” Guillén said. “The fans like the type of race we are making, with mountains, with explosive uphill finales. I am not going to lie to anyone, we like the mountaintop finishes.”
The Vuelta has enjoyed a revival over the past several years thanks to efforts to push the race off the main highways and away from the major cities. That’s opened up the Vuelta to hillier, more demanding terrain on narrow, interesting roads into smaller towns and communities that cheer the arrival of the peloton.
What’s confirmed is that the southern province of Cádiz will host the start of the 2014 Vuelta on August 23, with three stages starting in and around Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain.
The Andalusian city, world famous for its sherry, will likely open the Vuelta with a team time trial. Two more road stages are set for the hot, windy region before rolling north along the Mediterranean Coast.
It’s likely the Vuelta will sweep north along the coast, driving toward the Pyrénées, with a likely return to Andorra before steering across northern Spain.
There are reports that the Vuelta could return to the cycling hotbed in the Basque Country, which proved wildly popular in 2011 when the Vuelta returned for the first time in more than three decades.
More media reports suggest the Vuelta will skip the brutal Angliru summit this year in favor of a new climb dubbed the “hijo del Angliru,” or “son of the Angliru.”
The Diario de León reported that a new climb at the Alto de la Camperona will host a summit finale for the 14th stage, with ramps ranging from 13 to 21 percent up a grinding face in the final three kilometers.
With the road world championships set for Ponferrada two weeks after the Vuelta, it’s likely the course will trace the worlds circuit set in the steep hills of nearby Bierzo.
Reports indicate that the Puerto de Ancares, which debuted in the 2011 edition, could also be back on the menu. It features consistent ramps above 10 percent in one of the most spectacular and desolate climbs in Spain.
There are other reports that suggest the Vuelta will ditch its traditional finale in Madrid, which has hosted the final stage of the Spanish tour for decades.
Guillén passed on the idea of concluding the Vuelta on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, at least this year, but the Spanish tour might be ending somewhere else besides Madrid next year.
Much like the Giro, where Milan residents complained about street closures that accompanied the Italian finale, madrileños are no fans of the disruptions that come with the Vuelta’s final stage that shuts down Madrid’s busy Paseo de la Castellana.
Local newspapers in Galicia in northwest Spain report that the Vuelta instead could end in Santiago de Compostela rather than Madrid.
That would eliminate a big transfer down to Madrid and the logistical problems that come with trying to have the Vuelta’s penultimate stage finish on a decisive climb far from the nation’s capital.
This year, riders were livid when they raced the fearsome Angliru summit in Asturias in northern Spain, only then to travel in team buses more than five hours to the outskirts of Madrid for the start of the final stage. Riders said they did not arrive at team hotels until well past midnight.
Instead, the race could end in Galicia, which hosted the start of the highly successful 2013 edition with a team time trial and four road stages.
One report even suggested that the Vuelta could end in a nighttime time trial under the lights.
That would certainly put a new twist on how to end a grand tour.