The 70th edition of the Vuelta a Espana will return to Madrid for the finale but not before exploring the possibilities of nine new mountain finishes.
By
AFP

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

One of cycling's three grand tours, the gruelling 21-stage race will start with a 7.4 kilometre team time-trial in Marbella on Saturday, August 22 and finish with a parade around the centre of the Spanish capital on 13 September.

As usual the organisers have crammed in a number of mountain-top finishes with nine such stages making their appearance in the race for the first time.

"We wanted to keep the essence of the race. We really care about having a lot of mountain finishes, and having riders getting in the race with explosive finishes," Tour director Javier Gullen said.



"We're coming back to places where we haven't been lately such as Murcia, the Levante region and we have three difficult stages such as Andorra, the Astoria climbs and coming back into the Madrid region.



"We're happy because we want to give the riders and spectators a great show.



"It's a race with nine unseen mountain finishes. It's interesting for the viewers.



"We want to play with that this year - between the tradition of the 80th anniversary and the innovation with all the unseen finishes.



"It's not easy because it needs logistical reason, but they are all on the same level as we saw in the past years, and we are really playing on the fact that we are a country with landscapes that allow us to play with all those different things."



The most demanding of all will come in the 138km, 11th stage in Andorra which will encompass six steep climbs.

As well as the team time-trial to get the event started on the first Saturday, there is also a 39km individual time trial through Burgos on the 17th stage.

A final mountain finish awaits the riders on the outskirts of Madrid in Cercedilla on the penultimate stage before the traditional parade through the boulevards of the capital on the final Sunday.

Last year's winner Alberto Contador is unlikely to try to defend his title as the Spaniard has prioritised the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2015, while Sky's Chris Froome has yet to commit to the race after his second-place finish in 2014.

Therefore, Movistar duo Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana are among the favourites to battle it out in the general classification, along with Katusha's Spanish rider Joaquim Rodriguez.

"It is a Vuelta like the previous ones, it is very demanding and has explosive finishes," said Valverde, who has finished on the podium for the past three years.

"Those of us who will be fighting for the general classification will need to be very aware every day."

SBS will broadcast up to 12 stage of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana. Details to be announced later in the year.