Vuelta a Espana 2019: Five key stages

By Sports Desk August 23, 2019

Eight uphill finishes will sort the men from the boys in the battle to be crowned Vuelta a Espana champion.

The final Grand Tour race of the year gets under way with a 13.4-kilometre team time trial in Las Salinas de Torrevieja on Saturday.

There will be four summit finishes in the opening nine days and the general classification tussle could really take shape in Andorra during week two of three.

We pick out a selection of what could be the key stages in the fight for the red jersey, with Primoz Roglic the favourite in the absence of the likes of Tour de France winner Egan Bernal, Chris Froome, defending champion Simon Yates and the injured Richard Carapaz.

 

STAGE NINE -  ANDORRA LA VELLA TO CORTALS D'ENCAMP

The riders will be in need of a first rest day in Pau after tackling a 94.4km route which is rated as one of the queen stages.

There will be as many as four lung-busting climbs before a final ascent of Cortals d'Encamp.

Vuelta stars face an ascent of the Coll d'Ordino and will climb to almost 2,000 metres on an 'especial' category climb of Coll de la Gallina, before a four-kilometre gravel section precedes a gruelling final push to the finish.

 

STAGE 10 - JURANCON TO PAU

After putting their feet up for a day, a 36.2km individual time trial will provide another big challenge and could have a big say in who takes the red jersey.

Winding, often steep slopes will give the time-trial specialists an opportunity to claw back some time which they may have surrendered in the mountains.

With more major tests to come in the mountains, the likes of Roglic and Wilco Kelderman will look at stage 10 as a chance to make gains.

 

STAGE 13 - BILBAO TO LOS MACHUCOS

Another huge stamina test awaits on a 166.4km trek through the mountains to the top of Los Machucos.

With seven mountain passes on a hugely challenging day, teams will have to get their tactics right as they attempt to prevent potentially pivotal moves.

Four third category ascents, two second category climbs and a daunting finish will provide a major examination of GC credentials.

 

STAGE 16 - PRAVIA TO ALTO DE LA CUBILLA

The second of three days in Asturias may also have a big say in who stands on top of the podium in Madrid.

A 144.4km stage in the mountains will include three climbs, providing magnificent views for spectators but potentially some agony for those in the saddle.

The 27km final ride up the Alto de la Cubilla is sure to lead to some heavy breathing and whoever is wearing red at the end of the day will go into the second rest day with the title in their sights.

 

STAGE 18 - COLMENAR VIEJO TO BECERRIL DE LA SIERRA

The penultimate mountain stage on Wednesday in the final week takes place in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, where Fabio Aru replaced Tom Dumoulin as race leader four years ago.

Another brutal day will be in store for the riders, who face a 177.5km ride with a downhill finish after demanding climbs of Navacerrada and La Morcuera.

They can expect high temperatures on an energy-sapping day, with a technical descent to the line after a fourth first-category climb.

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