Mountains to the fore in Vuelta de Espana

Madrid, Jan 12: The route for the Vuelta de Espana cycle race was presented with the three-week journey, to be held at the end of the summer, promising more entertaining racing.

The 2014 edition of the Spanish Grand Tour contains mountain finishes in its 21 stages but with a team time trial to start the event and two further time trials, the race offers something for riders who are not pure climbers, reports Xinhua.

The big difference between the 2014 and previous editions is that rather than finishing here, the Vuelta ends with a time trial in Santiago de Compostela in the north-western province of Galicia.

The race has been tainted by controversy given that its first three days all start and finish in the province of Cadiz in towns whose local authorities are controlled by the ruling Popular Party (PP).

Opposition groups have said it is surprising that PP controlled authorities have been selected for the honour of staging the race although organisers insist this is just a coincidence.

The Vuelta starts Aug 23 and the riders will have to contend with hot conditions as the first nine days are all spent in the southern half of the country before making their way north.

The race will miss out traditional spots such as the Pyrenees and Andorra but the riders can expect tremendous last nine stages which will decide the race in the Picos de Europa before the time trial on the final day.

The aims of the organisers are to try and ensure the final result hangs in balance until the closing stages as it did this year when Chris Horner became the oldest rider to win a grand tour at the age of almost 42.

The race will also place an emphasis on relatively short but difficult stages in order to ensure competitive racing and the maximum entertainment rather than looking for long stages which can be dull for TV audience.

The Vuelta will set the stage for the World Championships which will be held in Pontevedra in the second half of September.

IANS