The 2013 Vuelta a España begins in Galicia on August 24 with a team time trial. After five days in Galicia, the three week tour will then continue counter-clockwise around Spain through Castilla y Leon, Extremadura, Andalucia, Aragon, Cataluña, La Rioja, Cantabria and Asturias, before finishing in Madrid September 15. The tour will also include trips to bordering countries Andorra and France.
The race, which is in its 68th edition, is in a particularly mountainous stretch, creating difficulty for sprinters and ease for climbers (13 of the 21 stages are held in the mountains). Luckily for the cyclists, the 2,062-mile race is broken by two rest days.
All 19 UCI World Tour teams are automatically obliged to start the race, and three wildcard teams are also invited, leaving a 21-team challenge.
Tour de France winner Christopher Froome, reigning champion Alberto Contador, and Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana, are all leaving their spandex at home, skipping the third and final major stage race of the year, and thus leaving competition open for other racers to step up.
“The shark,” Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Team Astana is favoured to win his second major title of the year after winning the Giro d’Italia. Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha is the other favourite, hoping to win a grand tour for the first time to end a long career.
See how these cyclists do when the spinning begins on Saturday!