Top cyclists kick off their tour of Spain on the Costa del Sol

The teams took centre stage at Malaga's Roman theatre on Thursday evening.
The teams took centre stage at Malaga's Roman theatre on Thursday evening. / FRANCIS SILVA
  • The peloton of the Vuelta a España will wind its way across 280 kilometres taking in the Costa del Sol and inland areas during the first four stages of the tour

The 'Vuelta' never forgets Malaga. In fact, this is the 30th time that the famous international cycle race will pass through the province, after that first time in a difficult year (1936), which was only the second time it took place. This year three of the stages will be held in Malaga and the fourth will start in the province and head to Granada. These are three days which should definitely not be missed by lovers of this sport who want to see their idols close up, even if it is only for a few fleeting seconds.

Stage 1 (Saturday):

Malaga-Malaga (8 kilometres)

Only eight kilometres in length, but this first stage of the Vuelta a España through the city of Malaga will be pure tension. The race starts near the Pompidou Centre, on the Paseo Antonio Machado, and finishes in the Plaza de la Constitución.

This will be an individual trial (ITT), simply to designate the first leader of the race. The departure is scheduled for 5.26pm and the first cyclists are expected to cross the finishing line just ten minutes later, around 5.35pm.

Their city route will take them along the Paseo de la Farola, Paseo de Levante, then La Farola again, the Ciudad de Melilla promenade, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Calle Rafael Pérez Estrada, Paseo Salvador Rueda, Calle Ferrándiz, Victoria, Plaza de Jesús El Rico, the Tres Gracias fountain in the Paseo del Parque and finally the city's Calle Larios to end at the Plaza de la Constitución.

Stage 2 (Sunday):

Marbella-Caminito del Rey (163.5 kilometres.)

There are three high points in this stage, the Puerto de Ojén (km. 7.5), the Alto de Guadalhorce (km. 91.1 and again at km 163.1) and the Alto de Ardales (km. 136.3).

This is the first full day of the Vuelta, and the first uphill section of the race.

Leaving from Marbella's Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe at 1.25pm, the cyclists will pass through Coín, Alozaina, Zalea, Pizarra, Álora, El Chorro and the Guadalhorce dam to reach the Alto de Ardales, before returning via Bermejo and El Chorro to finish at the Caminito del Rey.

The first racers are expected to arrive around 5.28pm at the Caminito del Rey visitors' centre. This is the second time this beauty spot in the heart of the countryside has been a finishing point for the Vuelta; the last time was in 2015.

Stage 3 (Monday):

Mijas-Alhaurín de la Torre (178.2 kms.)

The longest stage through Malaga province will begin at 12.50pm in Calle La Noria, in Mijas.

It is nearly 180 kilometres in length and will pass through Mijas, Marbella (and San Pedro Alcántara), Ronda, El Burgo, Yunquera, Alozaina, Coín, Mijas again, Benalmádena, Torremolinos and then finish in Alhaurín de la Torre. This is the first time Alhaurín has been the finishing point for the Vuelta, and the winner of this third stage is expected to arrive around 5.26pm.

This stage crosses two mountain passes, the Puerto de Madroño at km. 45.6 and the Puerto del Viento, at km 85.

This route is classified as medium mountain, and it will provide the cyclists with one of the few occasions this year when they are able to battle it out in a sprint to the finish at the end of the day.

Stage 4 (Tuesday):

Vélez-Málaga-Alfácar (161.4 kms.)

Cycling fans in Vélez-Malaga will also be able to enjoy their moment of glory, thanks to the fact that a stage of the Vuelta will be beginning there for the first time.

This will also be the last day the cyclists are in Malaga province.

They are due to set off from Avenida de las Naciones at 1pm, but the finishing line is in Granada province. After passing through Torrox and El Morche, in the opposite direction to last year, Nerja will be the final town in Malaga province which the multicoloured snake of the peloton will pass through before reaching Granada via Almuñécar.

After more than 160 kilometres, the cyclists' finishing point will be in a place which is completely new to them: Alfácar, in the Sierra de Alfaguara.