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Vuelta a Espana 2021: Route, start list, live TV guide and all we know so far

Cyclist magazine
13 Aug 2021

All you need to know about the route, riders and television coverage of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a Espana 2021: Key information

Dates: Saturday 14th August to Sunday 6th September 2021  
Grand Départ: Burgos, Spain  
Finale: Santiago de Compostela, Spain  
UK television coverage: ITV4, Eurosport

Having been shortened last year in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, 2021 will once again see a gloriously full-length Vuelta. Taking place over three weeks and 21 stages from Tuesday 14th August to Wednesday 6th September, this edition will be a purely Spanish affair.

Starting in the city of Burgos, Castile and León and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, the 3,336km in between will take in a typically large number of climbs. Headline acts include the Alto de Velefique on Stage 9, Lagos de Covadonga on Stage 17 and a first appearance for the Alto de Gamoniteiro on Stage 18.

Less typical, however, will be the race’s final day. Having previously avoided time-trial stages on the last day, the Vuelta this year will conclude with a rolling 33.7km test against the clock. That's easily long enough to decide the outcome of the race, and defending champion and Olympic TT gold medallist Primož Roglič should be at the forefront of the action. 

The Vuelta is normally a miserable hunting ground for pure sprinters, but with an uncharacteristically large number of flatter stages the race this year might finally also tempt those fast men who’ve something left in the tank heading towards the end of the season, especially with a rejigging of the points classification.

It will also be the final race of Fabio Aru's career as the Italian has decided to hang up his cleats at just 31 having struggled with injuries over the last few seasons. Having won the overall here in 2015, he might want to go out on top with a stage win.

Vuelta a Espana 2021 route: stage-by-stage  
Vuelta a Espana 2021 live TV guide  
Vuelta a Espana 2021 start list  

Vuelta a Espana 2021 Favourites 

Primož Roglič – Jumbo-Visma

Roglič has won the past two Vueltas, yet the race was something of a consolation prize for the Slovenian last year. Arriving having crashed out of the Tour de France early this year, he should at least be well-rested this time. His utter domination of the Olympic time-trial showed signs that he's fit again, so barring another setback it's hard to see anyone besting him. He’ll also be supported by Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk for the mountains with five more high quality teammates to be announced soon.

Egan Bernal – Ineos Grenadiers

An imperious winner at the Giro d'Italia, Bernal should be well-rested for the Vuelta and so the fight between him and Roglič is likely to be the biggest of the race. He'll be backed by Olympic road race winner Richard Carapaz, who will either be the best domestique at the race or a contender in his own right having finished second last time out. The Grenadiers aren't short of weapons either, since the powerful team is set to include support from Dani Martínez, Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov and Olympic gold medallist Tom Pidcock.

Aleksandr Vlasov – Astana-Premier Tech

Russian Aleksandr Vlasov has had a strong season and will benefit from support in the mountains from teammate Gorka Izagirre. A decent time-triallist who showed well in the Giro, he could stand an outside chance for the podium in what will be his last grand tour for the Kazakh team.

Enric Mas – Movistar

Sixth at the Tour de France, Mas has built a reputation for being both strong and consistent. Besides providing a swansong for Alejandro Valverde, his pursuit of the overall will be the Spanish Movistar squad’s big goal. And typically this is a race they throw everything at. 

Check out our full breakdown of the favourites here

Vuelta a Espana 2021 route

 

Vuelta a Espana 2021 route: stage-by-stage preview

Stage 1: Saturday 14th August, Burgos Catedral VIII Centenario 2021 - Catedral, 8km

 

The 2021 Vuelta kicks of in Castile and León with a short technical time-trial around the city of Burgos. Including a couple of moderate drags in the first half, the run to the line will be flat. Given the amount of climbing ahead of them, the GC riders' main aim is likely to be to stay upright around this challenging circuit.

Stage 2: Sunday 15th August, Caleruega VIII Centenario de Santo Domingo de Guzmán - Burgos Gamonal, 169.5km

 

Following on from the prologue time-trial, the riders will head straight into a flat stage, and this inland route from Caleruega back to the start town of Burgos should be a dead cert for the sprinters. However, with a small ramp around five kilometres from the end, there still might be some late attacks.

Stage 3: Monday 16th August, Santo Domingo de Silos - Espinosa de los Monteros Picón Blanco, 203km

 

After a surprisingly conventional couple of days comes a reminder that this is the Vuelta and not the Tour de France. Stage 3 sees riders take on the first big mountains. Lumpy in the early parts, the day finishes with the chunky Picon Blanco. Topping out at 1,500m, it's a first category climb with slopes of up to 17%. Making its debut appearance in a Grand Tour, it's already featured in the Vuelta a Burgos. A day with considerable GC potential.

Stage 4: Tuesday 17th August, El Burgo de Osma - Molina de Aragón, 163.6km

 

  

After beating up the riders with an early test in the mountains, Stage 4 is comparatively flat. Maybe just rolling enough to tempt riders interested in forming a breakaway, its final short drag to the line marks it out as one for the puncheurs.

Stage 5: Wednesday 18th August, Tarancón - Albacete, 184.4km

 

Looking at the flat profile of Stage 5, you'd assume it was another day for the sprinters. However, the winds that frequently whip across the central plains of Castilla-La Mancha might have other ideas. Depending on whether they arrive this could be a day of echelons, dashed dreams and high drama. Alternatively, it could be a leisurely roll towards a bunch sprint in Albacete. Best check the weather forecast.

Stage 6: Thursday 19th August, Requena - Alto de la Montaña de Cullera, 159km

 

Starting with a rolling downhill section before around 85km on flat roads, this is a stage sure to be decided in the final two kilometres. Featuring a 1.8km climb averaging over 9%, this punchy finale might well have been designed as a retirement gift to home favourite Alejandro Valverde.

Stage 7: Friday 20th August, Gandía - Balcón de Alicante, 152km

 

The most demanding stage yet features six categorised climbs and over 3,600m of ascent. Finishing with the steepest of the day's ascents, the Balcón de Alicante is just under 4km in length and around 9% on average. With so many slopes, breakaways are inevitable. However, if the GC race hasn't already kicked off, it should do so today.

Stage 8: Saturday 21st August, Santa Pola - La Manga del Mar Menor, 163.3km

 

Running along the southeast coast of Spain, despite two lumps in the middle this should be a stage for the sprinters. At the same time, the likelihood of crosswinds coming off of the sea mean it could still play out very differently. Either way, expect wide roads and seaside views throughout the day.

Stage 9: Sunday 22nd August, Puerto-Lumbreras - Alto de Velefique, 187.8km

 

Stage 9 is a brutal stage containing over 4,500m of climbing. The day's largest lump is the Alto Collado Venta Luisa which is a tad over 20km long. Still, this is just the softener for the 13km Alto de Velefique. Proving a gradient around 7% along with the day's summit finish, the prospect of a rest day tomorrow should see some fully committed attacks on its slopes. With the sierras and semi-desert of Almería providing the backdrop, this should be a stunning stage in every respect.

Rest Day: Monday 23rd August, Descanso

Stage 10: Tueday 24th August, Roquetas de Mar - Rincón de la Victoria, 190.2km

 

After a tough mountain stage followed by a day spent poolside, the Vuelta's second stint kicks off with what should be a sprint stage. Otherwise flat all day, any pure fast men will still need to hold on over the Almachar Pass, a second category climb located 15km from the line. With a downhill finish, this last rise is likely to provide a springboard for a late escape attempt. Nevertheless, the GC riders will probably be expecting a quiet day.

Stage 11: Wednesday 25th August, Antequera - Valdepeñas de Jaén, 131.6km

 

A more formidable stage than it looks on paper, despite possessing only a single third and second category climb today's route takes in over 2,500m of climbing. The latter of these, the Alto Valdepeñas de Jaén, lasts 9km and averages 5%. Followed by a descent and a nasty final uncategorised kick to the line, this has the feeling of a day where an opportunistic GC rider might magic something up. Passing through Malaga, Cordoba, and Jáen, it's likely to be a hot and tiring day.

Stage 12: Thursday 26th August, Jaén - Córdoba, 166.7km

 

A moderately hilly route that never rises above 700m in altitude, today’s two categorised climbs come towards the end before a flat dash to the line. Stacked as it is, it'll be the job of the sprint teams to stop any escapes. Finishing with a couple of loops around the town of Córdoba, the GC riders will look to stay out of trouble.

Stage 13: Friday 27th August, Belmez - Villanueva de la Serena, 197.2km

 

A long and rolling stage that appears made for the sprinters. Ahead of a huge day tomorrow, most GC teams will be looking to do little more than spin their legs. However, with the distance and heat of Extremadura to contend with, it's unlikely to provide too much respite.

Stage 14: Saturday 28th August, Don Benito - Pico Villuercas, 159.7km

 

A spiteful start and a mean ending. The Alto Collado de Ballesteros might only be 3km long, but with sections heading towards 20%, it's horribly steep. With a long and technical descent immediately afterwards, should anyone attack it'll be hard to organise the chase. That's followed by a series of painful lumps, which then lead into the final first category Pico Villuercas. Despite a few moments of respite dotted along its slopes, this 14km climb still has the potential to put a few GC riders out of contention.

Stage 15: Sunday 29th August, Navalmoral de la Mata - El Barraco, 193.4km

 

A stage of almost 200km featuring 4,000m of climbing. Coming after yesterday's draining stage, any one of today’s three early climbs could provide an opportunity to start putting other riders under pressure. Beginning with the Alto de la Centenera and Puerto de Pedro, the Puerto de Mijares is the day's biggest climb. Topping out at 1,568m, once the riders are clear of its far side the third category Puerto San Juan de Nava is the last climb of the day before a gradual 5km descent to the line.

Rest Day: Monday 30th August, Descanso

Stage 16: Tuesday 31st August, Laredo - Santa Cruz de Bezana, 170.8km

 

This Classics-style stage has plenty of little kickers. But with most of them a long way out from the finish, it should still end with a conventional sprint finish. Back in northern Spain, the riders will probably be looking forward to slightly cooler conditions than the previous week.

Stage 17: Wednesday 1st September, Unquera - Lagos de Covadonga, 181.6km

 

The centre of this mountain stage features a novel climb for the Vuelta. La Collada Llomena is 8km long and features slopes of 14%. The race's organisers are so sure of this picturesque climb becoming an instant classic that they're sending the riders up it twice, sending the riders to the summit via the same route both times. The day's denouement comes in the form of the 12km Lagos de Covadonga. A storied and much-used climb, its inclusion signals a pivotal day in the GC battle.

Stage 18: Thursday 2nd September, Salas - Altu d’el Gamoniteiru, 159.2km

 

The final big climb of the 2021 Vuelta is a monster. The Asturian giant of the Gamoniteiro has never been featured before. Narrow and twisting, a combination of its 15km length and irregular gradient should help make it decisive. Coming towards the end of the entire race and at the close of a stage including 4,800m of climbing, if you only watch one stage, it should probably be this one.

Stage 19: Friday 3rd September, Tapia - Monforte de Lemos, 187.8km

 

Constantly up and down, this stage seems designed for a breakaway. It's possibly a tad too hard for most pure sprinters anyway, especially since everyone is likely to be feeling the effects of the previous two days in their legs. The GC teams will be looking to take it easy as a result, so expect to see plenty of second-tier riders let off the leash.

Stage 20: Saturday 4th September, Sanxenxo - Mos. Castro de Herville, 173.6km

 

The Vuelta's route designer has described this stage as a mini-Liège–Bastogne–Liège. It's a description we won't argue with. Plenty of short, punchy climbs and a final uphill sprint to the line mean it should end in a Classics-style bun fight. While the GC riders might use the final climb to make a point by stealing a second or two, most will already be thinking about the following day's decisive time-trial.

Stage 21: Sunday 5th September, Padrón - Santiago de Compostela, 33.7km

 

The final stop in a three-week pilgrimage across Spain, Santiago de Compostela will host the first full-length TT at the Vuelta in over 20 years. Easily long enough to prove decisive, it's an uncharacteristic climax to a race famous for its climbing. With a dragging first third and a winding, technical route, the race lead could easily change on this final test – especially when the Olympic TT champion is at the race. Full gold bike please, Rogla.

 

Vuelta a Espana 2021: Live TV guide and coverage

Live TV coverage of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana from Eurosport and GCN+

All coverage times and channels are subject to change

Stage 1: Satuday 14th August

1635-2000 Stage 1 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 2: Sunday 15th August

1340-1700 Stage 2 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 3: Monday 16th August

1335-1700 Stage 3 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 4: Tuesday 17th August

1335-1700 Stage 4 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 5: Wednesday 18th August

1335-1700 Stage 5 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 6: Thursday 19th August

1335-1700 Stage 6 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 7: Friday 20th August

1150-1710 Stage 7 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 8: Saturday 21st August

1335-1710 Stage 8 live coverage, Eurosport 2, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 9: Sunday 22nd August

1335-1710 Stage 9 live coverage, Eurosport 2, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Rest Day: Monday 23rd August

Stage 10: Tuesday 24th August

1335-1710 Stage 10 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 11: Wednesday 25th August

1335-1710 Stage 11 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 12: Thursday 26th August

1335-1710 Stage 12 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 13: Friday 27th August

1335-1710 Stage 13 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 14: Saturday 28th August

1335-1710 Stage 14 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 15: Sunday 29th August

1155-1710 Stage 15 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Rest Day: Monday 30th August

Stage 16: Tuesday 31st August

1400-1700 Stage 16 live coverage, Eurosport 1, Eurosport Player, GCN+

Stage 17: Wednesday 1st September

TBC

Stage 18: Thursday 2nd September

TBC

Stage 19: Friday 3rd September

TBC

Stage 20: Saturday 4th September

TBC

Stage 21: Sunday 5th September

TBC

 

Vuelta a Espana 2021: Start list

WorldTour teams

AG2R-Citroën

Geoffrey Bouchard
Lilian Calmejane
Clément Champoussin
Mikaël Cherel
Stan Dewulf
Nicolas Prodhomme
Damien Touzé
Clément Venturini

Astana-Premier Tech 

Alex Aranburu
Omar Fraile
Gorka Izagirre
Ion Izagirre
Yuriy Natarov
Óscar Rodríguez
Luis León Sánchez
Aleksandr Vlasov

Bahrain Victorious 

Yukiya Arashiro
Damiano Caruso
Jack Haig
Mikel Landa
Gino Mäder
Mark Padun
Wout Poels
Jan Tratnik

Bora-Hansgrohe 

Cesare Benedetti
Patrick Gamper
Felix Großschartner
Martin Laas
Jordi Meeus
Anton Palzer
Max Schachmann
Ben Zwiehoff

Cofidis 

Piet Allegaert
Fernando Barceló
Eddy Finé
José Herrada
Jesús Herrada
Guillaume Martin
Emmanuel Morin
Rémy Rochas

Deceuninck-QuickStep 

Andrea Bagioli
Josef Černý
Fabio Jakobsen
James Knox
Florian Sénéchal
Zdeněk Štybar
Bert Van Lerberghe
Mauri Vansevenant

EF Education-Nippo 

Jonathan Caicedo
Diego Camargo
Simon Carr
Hugh Carthy
Magnus Cort
Lawson Craddock
Jens Keukeleire
Tom Scully

Groupama-FDJ 

Arnaud Démare
Kevin Geniets
Jacopo Guarnieri
Olivier Le Gac
Tobias Ludvigsson
Rudy Molard
Anthony Roux
Roman Sinkeldam

Ineos Grenadiers 

Egan Bernal
Richard Carapaz
Jhonatan Narváez
Tom Pidcock
Salvatore Puccio
Pavel Sivakov
Dylan van Baarle
Adam Yates

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 

Odd Christian Eiking
Jan Hirt
Wesley Kreder
Riccardo Minali
Louis Meintjes
Simone Petilli
Rein Taaramäe
Kévin Van Melsen

Israel Start-Up Nation 

Sebastian Berwick
Alexander Cataford
Davide Cimolai
Itamar Einhorn
Guy Niv
James Piccoli
Sep Vanmarcke
Mads Würtz Schmidt

Jumbo-Visma

Koen Bouwman
Robert Gesink
Lennard Hofstede
Steven Kruijswijk
Sepp Kuss
Sam Oomen
Primož Roglič
Nathan Van Hooydonck

Lotto-Soudal 

Steff Cras
Frederik Frison
Matthew Holmes
Andreas Kron
Sylvain Moniquet
Maxim Van Gils
Harm Vanhoucke
Florian Vermeersch

Movistar 

Imanol Erviti
Johan Jacobs
Miguel Ángel López
Enric Mas
Nelson Oliveira
José Joaquín Rojas
Alejandro Valverde
Carlos Verona

Qhubeka-NextHash 

Sander Armée
Fabio Aru
Connor Brown
Dimitri Claeys
Sergio Henao
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
Bert-Jan Lindeman
Dylan Sunderland

Team BikeExchange 

Esteban Chaves
Lucas Hamilton
Damien Howson
Michael Matthews
Luka Mezec
Mikel Nieve
Robert Stannard
Andrey Zeits

Team DSM 

Thymen Arensman
Romain Bardet
Alberto Dainese
Nico Denz
Chad Haga
Chris Hamilton
Michael Storer
Martijn Tusveld

Trek-Segafredo 

Gianluca Brambilla
Giulio Ciccone
Kenny Elissonde
Alex Kirsch
Juan Pedro López
Antonio Nibali
Kiel Reijnen
Quinn Simmons

UAE Team Emirates 

David de la Cruz
Joe Dombrowski
Ryan Gibbons
Rafał Majka
Sebastián Molano
Rui Oliveira
Jan Polanc
Matteo Trentin

Wildcard Teams 

Alpecin-Fenix

Tobias Bayer
Floris De Tier
Alexander Krieger
Sacha Modolo
Jasper Philipsen
Edward Planckaert
Scott Thwaites
Jay Vine

Burgos-BH

Jetse Bol
Óscar Cabedo
Carlos Canal
Ángel Madrazo
Daniel Navarro
Ander Okamika
Diego Rubio
Pelayo Sanchez

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

Jon Aberasturi
Julen Amezqueta
Aritz Bagües
Jefferson Cepeda
Álvaro Cuadros
Jonathan Lastra
Oier Lazkano
Sergio Roman Martín

Euskaltel-Euskadi 

Xabier Mikel Azparren
Mikel Bizkarra
Joan Bou
Mikel Iturria
Juan José Lobato
Gotzon Martín
Luis Ángel Maté
Antonio Jesús Soto

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Vuelta a Espana 2021 route: stage-by-stage  
Vuelta a Espana 2021 live TV guide  
Vuelta a Espana 2021 start list  

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