La Vuelta a España — The Climbers Race - TBT - Insider. The Thomson Bike Tours Blog

The cloud hung low, kissing the tarmac in the gloom of late September. The rain clattered against umbrellas like machine gun fire as an impetuous Scotsman climbed off his bike, a mere metre from the finish line. David Millar tore off his number, placed it neatly on the road and walked away. Out of La Vuelta. Broken by the Angliru, one of the most notorious climbs in cycling.

La Vuelta a España may be the youngest of the three Grand Tours but it’s reputation is monumental, legendary for incredible weather, insane climbs and the hardest racing you can imagine. Fought in September, the race features riders hoping to win new contracts, others looking to turn around poor seasons and others aiming for the World Championships. The race is full of opportunity, the perfect storm for crazy tactics and racing. Pure racing. Anything goes.

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The Climber’s Grand Tour

For the fans the race has become a firm favourite in the calendar, enjoying a laid-back attitude, strong sunshine, amazing scenery and great food. When combined with mythical climbs and all out racing, it’s easy to see why La Vuelta is such a popular event. First staged in 1935 with a hiatus for the Spanish Civil War and moved from Spring to late Summer in 1995 the race has been dominated by climbers.

Spain’s fabled climbs are written into modern folklore, just to read their names conjures images of fans pushing stricken vehicles up 20% gradients. The smell of exhaust fumes and burned clutches filling the air as team cars, buses and motos struggle with the ascents. Alto El Angliru is one of those names, introduced in 1999 to rival famous Grand Tour climbs like Mortirolo, Stelvio and Galibier and both feared and loved ever since.

So in awe of the challenge back in 1999, even the pro’s took to triple chain sets to help them tackle the beast. After David Millar’s refusal to finish in 2002, race director Enrique Franco defended the climb, saying “La Vuelta without the Angliru is like a five-kilometer marathon or a fifteen-minute football match.” So quickly a climb can become intrinsically linked to a race.

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2019 — Another Classic Year

This year promises to be another classic year for the climbers. Starting in Alicante, the 2019 edition features eight mountaintop finishes and a TT in Pau that’s short enough to keep the mountain goats happy. An unusually difficult first week culminates in a brutally difficult stage in Andorra complete with off-road sector, just before the final mountain ascent.

We see the return of the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa in northern Spain follow before the race heads south to the sierras of Avila ahead of the finish in Madrid on Sept 15th. Before the red jersey is awarded there’s the small matter of difficult second week featuring Los Machucos’s painfully steep narrow slopes, where Chris Froome found himself in trouble in 2017. Stage 15 visits Alto del Acebo, often seen in the Vuelta a Asturias, but never before in La Vuelta a España. The race this year will use a completely new final ascent to the Acebo summit – something to look out for! La Cubilla on stage 16 is a favourite amongst locals but its gruelling 20km ascent might well blow the race apart.

With Los Machucos, Puerto de Pena Negra, Puerto de Pozo de Mujeres Muertas and many more favourites featuring throughout the three weeks, 2019 promises to live up to the reputation as one for the climbers.

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Ride The Vuelta

With multiple summit finishes and several impossibly tough and beautiful mountains, La Vuelta is a challenge that can’t be ignored. The late summer weather is ideal for spectators and racers alike, combined with a laid back attitude to make an altogether unique experience.

Our La Vuelta KOM Challenge provides a fantastic mix of live race-viewing and challenging rides on the legendary routes and climbs of northern Spain. Witness the summit finish on the super-steep Los Machucos, test your skills on the legendary Angliru and enjoy VIP viewing of the final stage in downtown Madrid.

Enjoy the premiere La Vuelta cycling experience with Thomson Bike Tours on either our 7 or 12 day trip. The best race viewing, incredible access to riders and above all the most challenging riding are all available for you to experience. Are you ready?

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La Vuelta KOM 7-Day Challenge

Los Machucos to the Angliru

Stage 13 – Summit Finish on Los Machucos (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 14 – San Vicente (Meet the pros and celebrities at the Stage Start)

Stage 15 – Summit Finish on the climb to Santuario de Acebo (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 16 – Summit Finish on the Alto de la Cubilla (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Learn more


La Vuelta KOM 12-Day Challenge

Los Machucos to Madrid

Stage 13 – Summit Finish on Los Machucos (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 14 – San Vicente (Meet the pros and celebrities at the Stage Start)

Stage 15 – Summit Finish on the climb to Santuario de Acebo (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 16 – Summit Finish on the Alto de la Cubilla (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 18 – Private Race-Viewing Marquee on the climb to the Puerto de Cotos

Stage 20 – Summit Finish on the Alto de Gredos (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Stage 21 – Stage Finish on the Paseo de Castellana (access to the VIP hospitality tribune)

Learn more

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