After a year’s absence, Spain’s biggest cycling race returns to Malaga. The starting point for the Vuelta a España, which begins outside of Spain in Nîmes (France) this year, will be on 19 August, but fans of the sport will have to wait until the 12th phase, which will take place on 31 August, to see their idols up close.
Not only will riders pass through the city of Malaga, but two municipalities in the province, Antequera and Coín, will have special prominence in this international spectacle which last year attracted 365 million viewers worldwide; the former is where the finishing line of the 12th stage will be and the latter hosts the start line for the 13th.
The twelfth stage, which runs from Motril, will pass through Maro, Nerja, Torrox Costa, El Morche, Lagos, Algarrobo Costa, Caleta de Vélez, Torre del Mar, Benajarafe, Torre de Benagalbón, Rincón de la Victoria, Cala del Moral and the Malaga suburb of El Palo. This 85-kilometre coastal route then gives way to mountain passes as it winds its way through Puerto de la Bolina and Puerto del León in the Montes de Málaga on the way to Colmenar. Next up is Villanueva de la Concepción before a climb of 530 metres over 7.6 kilometres to the top of El Torcal in Antequera, ahead of a brief sprint down to the dolmens.
The 13th stage will be completely different. Leaving from Coín on 1 September, the route to Tomares (Seville) is a lot flatter in comparison, though slightly longer (198.4 kilometres). Before entering the province of Seville, riders will pass through the historic centre of Coín, before taking in the Alto de Ardales and the municipality of Almargen. This stage will favour sprinters though the main difficulty will be the temperature.
In this latest edition of the Vuelta, the choice of location, Antequera and Coín, was not by chance: “The first was chosen because of its dolmens, which is a Unesco heritage site, but also because we hope to make it a 2018 European City of Sport. In the case of Coín, a European Town of Sport for 2017, it was a no-brainer,” said Diputación provincial government chief Elías Bendodo, who was present alongside the mayors of Antequera and Coín, Manuel Barón and Fernando Fernández-Tapias, at the presentation on Tuesday in Malaga.
Though not yet confirmed, this 72nd edition of the race is expected to feature some of the best cyclists in the world with Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador and Chris Froome all hinting that they will participate.