Vuelta 2010 route unveiled - but will Valverde be there to defend crown?

Court hearings in New Year will determine whether Spaniard will start in Seville

by Simon_MacMichael   December 16, 2009  

Vuelta 2010.jpg

Next year’s Vuelta a España seeks to celebrate the race’s 75th birthday in style, getting underway with what promises to be a spectacular night-time team time trial in Seville on Saturday 28th August that starts outside the La Maestranza Bullring and takes in some of the city’s principal sights on its 16.5km route.

And with last year’s Vuelta starting in the Netherlands – a choice followed by organisers of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France for those races in 2010 – purists will be happy that the 65th edition of the race will be played out entirely within its home country, apart from a brief excursion into Andorra.

As last year, it’s a race for the climbers, with no fewer than six summit finishes, two of which – Cotobello in Asturias, and the Boia del Mundo just outside Madrid – make their debut in the race.

Also featured are Xorret del Catí, where 2009 winner Alejandro Valverde took the race leader’s golden jersey from Cadel Evans in September, Pal Pass in Andorra, Peña Cabarga, and Lagos de Covadonga, all of which have hosted stage finishes in the past.

City-centre finishes are scheduled for the likes of Murcia – Valverde’s home town –Malaga, Toledo and, of course, Madrid, and the Vuelta also pays a visit to the millionaire’s playground of Marbella on its second day.

The opening day apart, there’s only one other opportunity for riders to get on their time trial bikes, on Stage 17 which offers a flat course with long straight sections through the Ribera del Duero vineyards.

Whether Valverde will be there to defend his title is open to question at the moment. Earlier this week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Laussanne set dates for two hearings involving the Caisse d’Epargne rider.

The first of those, from January 12-14, sees Valverde seek to overturn the two-year ban on racing in Italy, imposed by CONI, the Italian Olympic committee, due to the rider’s alleged links to a clinic at the centre of the Spanish Operation Puerto investigation.

CONI alleges that a blood sample from Valverde taken as the 2008 Tour de France – in which he wore the race leader’s yellow jersey – went into Italy matched blood seized two years earlier as part of Operation Puerto.

Valverde’s ban from racing in Italy kept him out of this year’s Tour de France due to the race including a short stretch on Italian roads. The UCI and World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) have joined CONI as defendants at the latter’s request.

If CONI’s decision is upheld, the Spaniard is expected to receive a worldwide ban. He would also be stripped of his Vuelta crown, which would pass by default to second-placed Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Operation Puerto also plays a central role in the second case, scheduled for March 18-21, in which the UCI and WADA are appealing the Spanish cycling federation’s refusal to take action against the rider.

With or without Valverde, the 65th editon of the Vuelta will start in Seville next August, with the full itinerary shown below.

The Vuelta website includes detailed information on the race in English – click on individual stages for a description and elevation profile – while a PDF file with the same details, but in Spanish, can be downloaded here.

Date Km Stage

28 Aug 16,5 Sevilla - Sevilla (TTT)
29 Aug 173,0 Alcalá de Guadaíra - Marbella
30 Aug 156,0 Marbella - Málaga
31 Aug 177,0 Málaga - Valdepeñas de Jaén
1 Sep 194,0 Guadix - Lorca
2 Sep 144,0 Caravaca de Cruz - Murcia
3 Sep 170,0 Murcia - Orihuela
4 Sep 188,8 Villena - Xorret del Catí
5 Sep 187,0 Calpe - Alcoy
6 Sep - Rest Day
7 Sep 173,7 Tarragona - Vilanova i la Geltrú
8 Sep 208,0 Vilanova i la Geltrú - Andorra (Vallnord/sector Pal)
9 Sep 175,0 Andorra la Vella - Lleida
10 Sep 193,7 Rincón de Soto - Burgos
11 Sep 178,8 Burgos - Peña Cabarga
12 Sep 170,0 Solares - Lagos de Covadonga
13 Sep 179,3 Gijón - Cotobello
14 Sep - Rest Day
15 Sep 46,0 Peñafiel - Peñafiel (ITT)
16 Sep 153,0 Valladolid - Salamanca
17 Sep 200,0 Piedrahita - Toledo
18 Sep 168,8 San Martín de Valdeiglesias - Bola del Mundo
19 Sep 100,0 San Sebastián de los Reyes - Madrid