Words by Max Leonard | Map by Ultan Coyle
This Sunday, the Tour of Spain departs from Galicia on a three-week Iberian odyssey. The dark horse of the three Grand Tours, it has thrills and spills to match its counterparts in Italy and France and last season treated spectators to arguably the most thrilling Grand Tour of 2012.
In 2013 it again plays to the national esteem for climbers, by offering no fewer than 11 summit finishes along the route, including one in Peyragudes, the ski station on the French side of the border. There is also the fearsome Angliru (12.5 km at 10% average, with ramps of 24%) at the end of the penultimate stage, which will keep the GC fight lively right up to the traditional run in to Madrid.
Alberto Contador is not riding this year so will not defend his title, and Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana are absent, so the race is open. That said, Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali is supported by a heavyweight Astana line-up, and Joaquim Rodríguez and Alejandro Valverde will reprise their battle for the top. Team Sky’s Colombians, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán, meanwhile, may be given a run for their money by their compatriot Carlos Betancur of AG2R.
First Three Stages
STAGE 1 | August 24th
August 24th | Vilanova de Arousa – Sanxenxo, 27.4km TTT
No hills, but this team time trial will make an initial selection. Let’s hope nobody falls off the starting barge into the Ria de Arousa.
STAGE 2 | August 25th
August 25th Pontevedra – Monte da Groba, 177.7km
A largely flat stage, the one cat-3 climb is the race’s first summit finish. The 10km finale averages 6.2%.
STAGE 3 | August 26th
August 26th | Vigo – Lago de Sanabria, 174.3km
A day uphill into the Zamora province. However, the two categorised climbs aren’t near the end, so it’ll finish in a bunch gallop.