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Leaked Vuelta a Espana route suggests tough finish in Andorra

Joe Robinson
12 Jan 2018

Nine summit finishes and two individual time trials among tough 2018 Vuelta a Espana route

Ahead of the official presentation this Saturday, latest leaked reports appear to confirm that the 2018 Vuelta a Espana will take on nine summit finishes including a potentially decisive penultimate stage in the mountainous principality of Andorra.

Spanish news outlet AS posted the leaked route suggesting that there will be nine summit finishes in total, culminating with two tough days in Andorra on Stages 19 and 20 before the traditional procession stage around Spain's capital, Madrid.

These final two days in Andorra could be pivotal in the outcome of the race, with Andorran tourism minister Francesc Camp boasting that Stage 20 will be a 'spectacular, high mountain stage that will be pleasing to the public.'

Further rumours have suggested that this stage could be short, under 150km in length, yet tackle as many as six categorised climbs.

Joining this tough Andorran duo will be a return of the Vuelta to the Lagos de Covadonga. Based in the north of the country, the Covadonga is one of the race's most visited climbs and acted as a deciding factor in Nairo Quintana's (Movistar) red jersey success in 2016.

As also seems tradition, the Spanish race will ascend an exceptionally steep climb. In the final week, the race will visit the Basque country with a new summit finish on Monte Oiz.

The 8.5km climb averages 9.7% in gradient for its duration topping out at 20.7% at its toughest point with the steepest gradients in the latter half of the climb. 

Beyond the mountains, it seems that the Vuelta may be lacking in kilometres against the clock with only two reported time trials, one of which is a short prologue of 10km through Malaga.

The Vuelta will be hoping that the 2018 route announcement will deflect from the controversy surrounding its last edition.

Chris Froome took the red jersey in what was a historic Tour de France/Vuelta double but the performance has since been plunged into dispute after returning an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol on Stage 18 of last year's race.

If handed a suspension, there is the possibility the ban could be backdated subsequently stripping Froome of his Vuelta title.

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