The Vuelta a Espana went italian, not French.
Perhaps taking inspiration from last year’s brutal and torturous Giro d’Italia, race director Javier Guillén presented a menacing route with seven summit finishes. the 67th edition of what we like to call the Helta Skelta Vuelta takes place entirely in Northern Spain, only dipping down into Madrid for the final day.
Former Giro impresario Angelo Zomeganan — who lost his job after that killer Giro — liked to say that he put a little “drama” in every stage. It appears the Guillén devised the route based on fan approval. “There are so many summit finishes because that is what the public demand,” Guillén explained. “We’ve gone out looking for short and explosive stages.”
Critics are already saying that it will be impossible for a time trial expert to get anywhere near the podium. This Vuelta is a gift to Spain’s pocket rocket Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). He had three times the enthusiasm as anyone else, saying “There are lots of explosive summit finishes. I like it, I like it, I like it.” The Global Cycling Shindig will bring their A team to support Purito in his quest for a grand tour victory.
Essentially, all that stands in the was of Rodriquez willing is a 40k time trial son stage eleven. But given the number of summit finishes on short, punchy stages, this is his tour to lose.
The summit-heavy Vuelta reminds Twisted Spoke about something RadioShack-Nissan’s Chris Horner said about the last Tour de France. He called the route — and the one this year — “soft.” On the other hand, he loved the climb-crazy Giro and said it was spectacular.
In recent years, the Giro and especially the Vuelta have definitely come up in stature and fan interest compared to the Tour de France. The Spanish have worked hard to conjure up imaginative and unexpected routes and stages. The people at ASO have been watching those developments carefully.
This year’s edition of the Giro was scaled back and the Tour favors a time trialer who can climb. We’ll see this year which of the three grand tours provides the most excitment. Horner would tell you the Vuelta made the right calls.
The route of the 2012 Vuelta a España:
Stage 1, August 18: Pamplona team time trial, 16.2km
Stage 2, August 19: Pamplona-Viana, 180km
Stage 3, August 20: Oion-Arrate (Eibar), 153km
Stage 4, August 21: Barakaldo-Valdezcaray, 155km
Stage 5, August 22: Logroño-Logroño, 172km
Stage 6, August 23: Tarazona-El Fuerte del Rapitán (Jaca), 174km
Stage 7, August 24: Jaca-Motorland (Alcañiz), 160km
Stage 8, August 25: Lleida- Coll de la Gallina (Andorra), 175km
Stage 9, August 26. Andorra-Barcelona, 194km
August 27: Rest day
Stage 10, August 28: Ponteareas-Sanxenxo, 166km
Stage 11, August 29: Cambados-Pontevedra time trial, 40km
Stage 12, August 30: Vilagarcía-Mirador de Ezaro (La Coruña), 184.6km
Stage 13, August 31: Santiago de Compostela-Ferrol, 172.7km
Stage 14, September 1: Palas do Rei-Los Ancares, 152km
Stage 15, September 2: La Robla-Lagos de Covadonga, 186.7km
Stage 16, September 3: Gijón (Villa de Jovellanos)-Cuitu Negro, 185km
September 4: Rest day
Stage 17, September 5: Santander-Fuente Dé, 177km
Stage 18, September 6: Aguilar de Campoo-Valladolid, 186.4km
Stage 19, September 7: Peñafiel-La Lastrilla, 169km
Stage 20, September 8: Palazuelo del Eresma-Bola del Mundo, 169.5km
Stage 21, September 9: Cercedilla-Madrid, 111.9km