For the first time in two decades, the Vuelta a España could conclude not with a sprinter-friendly stage in Madrid, but with an individual time trial - possibly at night - in Santiago de Compostela, 500 kilometres to the northwest, reports the website of AS, the race’s official newspaper.
The Galician capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Christianity’s third most important pilgrimage site in the middle ages after Rome and Jerusalem, was the the last city other than Madrid to host the finale of the race, in 1993.
Each of the 20 editions since then has concluded in the Spanish capital, usually with a road stage, although an individual time trial featured from 2000 to 2004.
No reason has been given for the race apparently finishing in Galicia next year, although a week after the Vuelta finishes, the UCI Road World Championships will begin in Ponferrada, some 200km to the east of Santiago de Compostela.
Details have also emerged of some of the other stages of the race, which will be officially unveiled on 11 January in Cadiz, capital of the eponymous province in Andalusia already confirmed as hosting the opening three stages of next year’s 69th edition of the Spanish Grand Tour.
The first stage will be a time trial, likely to finish in the sherry town of Jerez de la Frontera, although it’s unclear at the moment whether that will be an individual or team version.
However, the Vuelta has started with the latter in each of the last four editions have begun with the latter in, respectively, Seville, Benidorm, Pamplona and Sanxenxo.
Details have also been revealed out of some of the mountain stages the race will tackle and unsurprisingly, given it’s the Vuelta, there are some very tough ascents in prospect.
The penultimate weekend of the race sees three summit finishes in succession, the first of those being the Vuelta debut of the Camperona in the province of Leon on Stage 14 on Saturday 6 September.
It’s likely to be a very tough finale to the stage, with ramps of between 17 and 22 per cent in the final 3km.
That’s followed by stages ending at Vuelta regular the Lagos de Covadonga and La Farrapona, where in 2011 Team Sky’s Sir Bradley Wiggins held on to the race lead for a fourth successive day following a stage won by Cofidis rider, Rein Taaramae.
Following a rest day on Tuesday 9 September, the race is set to resume in Galicia for its concluding stages, with the penultimate day ending with an ascent of the Puerto de Ancares.
During the 2012 Vuelta, Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez won a stage there to extend his overall lead over Albetrto Contador– although it would be the latter who would win that year’s race a week later in Madrid.
While the overall has been decided on the last but one stage for the past decade ahead of the now traditional procession into Madrid, the final day’s individual time trial changes the complexion of the race and for Rodriguez will evoke memories of last year’s Giro d’Italia.
The Spaniard went into the closing stage with a 31-second advantage over Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal, but his weakness against the clock saw him overhauled to finish second overall, 16 seconds behind the Canadian.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.