La Vuelta Espana 2009
La Vuelta Espana / Tour of Spain is an annual bicycle race that covers more than 3,500 kilometres (2,200mi) throughout Spain and a bordering country. The race usually lasts 23 days and attracts cyclists from around the world. The race is broken down into day-long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are totalled to determine the overall winner for the race. The rider with the least elapsed time each day wears a yellow jersey. The course changes every year but it has always finished in Madrid.
The La Vuelta Espana 2009 was the 64th Vuelta a España. The event took place from 29 August to 20 September 2009. For only the second time in the race’s history, it began away from Spanish soil, with the race not in fact reaching Spain until Stage 5.
The La Vuelta Espana 2009 has been described as having an easy start and a hard finish. This is because of the short individual time trial and three perfectly flat stages in the Netherlands (along with another in Spain in the race’s first week), and eight of the final fourteen stages being mountain stages, with four mountaintop finishes.
The race was won by Spain’s Alejandro Valverde who claimed his first grand tour victory.
La Vuelta Espana 2009 – Route map and Stages
Drenthe (Holanda) – Madrid from 29th August to 20th September
1 – Assen – Assen (ITT – 4,5 km) Saturday 29th August
Barely four and a half kilometres of an individually-timed lap are left to welcome and honour the twenty racing teams that will cycle the 3,281 km to go from Assen Motorcycling Racetrack to the Paseo de la Castellana arrival in Madrid.
2 – Assen – Emmen (202 km) Sunday 30th August
The second stage of Spain’s 64th Vuelta will be run through Drenthe Province, the Netherlands most cycling-fond zone, on completely level ground, save for the Witteveen height where racers can win the first Mountain Leader jersey of the 2009 Vuelta.
3 – Zutphen – Venlo (185 km) Monday 31st August
As the Vuelta heads South through the Netherlands, it will run over short block-paved road stretches, which, if weather turns foul, will be skipped, to keep from worsening the pelotons usual stress in the first stages. The bonus points awarded for Vuelta arrival and intermediate sprints, as provided for in UCI regulations, will imply that the Leader’s jersey will be switching shoulders.
4 – Venlo – Lieja (224 km) Tuesday 1st September
The 224km of the longest Vuelta stage reminds of a classic one. Racers go across the Netherlands border and, after a short run through Germany, come to the Belgian Province of Liège. This will be the only European City that can boast hosting Giro, Tour and Vuelta stages. The Vuelta aims to honour in this way, the thousands of Spanish immigrant-descendants that live in the City and its Province.
Once the stage ends, racers board a plane for Catalonia where they are allowed the first rest day of the two planned by the Vuelta.
5 – Tarragona – Vinaroz (174 km) Thursday 3rd September
First Vuelta stage in the Peninsula that runs from Tarragona, along the Levante region, to Vinarós, over the first two fairly significant mountain passes (Fatxas and Benifallet), but far from the finishing line. Same as in the 2005 Vuelta, racers pass by the Ermita de la Misericordia that is located six kilometres away from the finishing line.
6 – Xativa – Xativa (186 km) Friday 4th September
For the first-time ever, Xátiva hosts a finishing line, although a stage departed already from this town back in 2004. This stage holds the surprise of three third-class mountain passes which are new in the Vuelta history: Alto de la Muela, Alto de Millares and Alto de Beniganin. A demanding challenge, if so wanted by the racers, although the stage strain should not affect the Vuelta’s final outcome. In Xátiva, riders meet the Vuelta first arrival circuit, going twice round the City, before reaching the finishing line located at the Xátiva Castle National Monument.
7 – Valencia – Valencia (ITT – 30 km) Saturday 5th September
This thirty kilometres long timed-trial is run over the Formula 1 racing urban circuit. A sprinting circuit at the stage finishing completes the Vuelta’s first third. From now on, gaps will start widening in the race ranking upper end and what each racer can muster to win the Vuelta final podium will begin to show. The race starts virtually at the seaside (America’s Cup Dock), and runs the urban circuit to end back in the Formula 1 own racing track finishing line.
8 – Alzira – Alto de Aitana (206 km) Sunday 6th September
The first straining mountain and long-distance stage goes, in its 206 km, over seven mountain passes: four third-class, three second and one special class, where riders reach the finishing line. Two of the mentioned mountain passes are new in the Vuelta: Castell de Castells and Guadalest. In the stage second-half, riders have to climb 2,610 meters going over a number of difficult mountain passes till they face the last 1,210 m climb in Tudons (through Sella) to reach the Aitana Heights finishing line.
9 – Alcoi – Xorret de Cati (186 km) Monday 7th September
Second time the stage finishing line has been set higher up in the Valencia region. From Alcoy, where cycling is popular, up to Xorret de Catí that for the fourth time sets the Vuelta finishing line in the mountain top. The riders climbing on the Vuelta three previous occasions was spectacular. Six mountain
passes are waiting before the final climb: two third-class, one of them, the Onil Pass, is new in the Vuelta, and four second-class ones. In the second-class passes, riders have to climb twice La Carrasqueta and, for the first time, riders have to climb, again, the Tudons mountain pass, which they went over twice already during yesterday’s stage.
10 – Alicante – Murcia (162 km) Tuesday 9th September
The two stages run in the Murcia Autonomous Region are starting now. The first finishing line is located in Murcia City. This implies a silver jubilee for Murcia, for this is the 25th time the Vuelta comes to the City. The well-known and spectacular Cresta del Gallo mountain climb will be a surprise for riders twelve kilometres before the finishing line is reached.
11 – Murcia – Caravaca de la Cruz (191 km)Wednesday 10th September
Heading South, the stage ends at the Templar town of Caravaca de la Cruz, just ahead of its Jubilee Year (2010). Although the Vuelta took long in coming here and arrived first in 2004, this is the second time in five years the Vuelta goes through. Going from Murcia towards Collado Bermejo, a mountain pass, new in the
Vuelta, set at km 53.3, allows riders the chance for earning points in two mountain passes -Zarzadilla and Moratalla- both enclosed, too, for the first time in the Vuelta, and enclosed going twice through the finishing line. This stage is convenient for those that have not achieved results yet, when the Vuelta is already halfway. After this stage, riders are allowed the second and last rest day in the Vuelta.
12 – Almeria – Alto de Velefique (174 km) Friday 12th September
First of the four stages run in Andalusia and a flying colours start for the three mountain passes and 3,550 meters riders have to climb this weekend with the new Calar Alto Observatory top reached through Tíjola and Serón, and the
finishing line set up, also, for the first time, in Velefique Height. This is a special chance for powerful climbers, who should not expect even one meter of riding relief. Many questions that have to do with the race final outcome will start to seem clear during this stage.
13 – Berja – Alto de Sierra Nevada (175 km) Saturday 13th September
From Berja the Vuelta comes to its highest climb, the 2,520 meters high Alberto Fernandez Mountain Top, which racers must go over: five mountain passes, two first class and the special class top where the finishing line is located. At km 44, riders have to go over the imposing Puerto de la Ragua that
the Vuelta for the first time approaches by this side. Racers go on through the Blancares mountain pass to the City of Granada, but have to climb first the dramatic first-class Alto de Monachil, at km 158, before they reach the finishing line located at the special-class Sierra Nevada mountain top.
14 – Granada – La Pandera (157 km) Sunday 14th September
Riders have completed two straining stages and have to start right away the third one. One of the Vuelta’s rather decisive and significant finishing lines is set up, for the fourth time, at the Sierra de la Pandera mountain range top in Jaén Province. After going through two small third-class passes – Las
Encebras and Huelma – in the first half of the stage, as riders come to Jaen have to run over a block-paved stretch round the City’s Cathedral. Riders continue towards the second class Villares mountain pass and reach the final nine km long and 8% mean slope climb to Alto de la Pandera.
15 – Jaén – Córdoba (168 km)Monday 15thSeptember
This is the eighteenth time the Vuelta comes to Cordoba, but this time through a new access. A rather easier stage compared to the three previous ones, but requires going over the so-called “Fourteen Percent Road Height”, which is enclosed, for the first time, in the Vuelta, and located twenty kilometres away from the finishing line, that racers will reach after running down the steep fast descent from San Jerónimo Height.
16 – Córdoba – Puertollano (170 km) Tuesday 16th September
This is the first of two stages in the Castile-La Mancha Region, a fairly comfortable ride and one of the last chances to win points for those who have not achieved yet any results in the 2009 Vuelta. Early in this stage and still far from the finishing line, racers must go over two third-class mountain passes, the only ones in this stage, but through a rather winding or, better said, a regular “pain in the neck” route.
17 – Ciudad Real – Talavera de la Reina (175 km) Wednesday 17th September
The race runs over completely level-ground and allows, in theory, the last chance for sprinters or stage-winners success, the arrival at La Castellan being excluded. A good chance for a sprint arrival, since there is not a single height where bonus points can be earned and the stage is even best than the previous one for powerful sprinters.
18 – Talavera de la Reina – Avila (187 km) Thursday 18th September
This 187 km stage can again strain the overall ranking. Just at the start, riders have to climb the Piélago – second class – and Mijares –first class– mountain passes. After going through El Barraco cycling-fond town, riders have to turn right and climb, on their way to the finishing line, the Alto del
Mediano – second class – and Boquerón – third class – mountain passes. The road skirts the medieval walls and Ronda Vieja ring-road cobbled pavement, before the finishing line is reached. Save for the Mijares pass, the other three are new to the Vuelta, and, leaving aside the heights in the Netherlands and Belgium, a total of fifteen new mountain passes have been added for the first time to the Vuelta.
19 – Avila – La Granja. Real Fábrica de Cristales (174 km) Friday 19th September
The first stretch, in this mountains climbing stage, going up to El Espinar, is rather winding and favours escape attempts. The stage is just right for climbers that have to top the Puerto del Leon, going twice over Navacerrada, the second climb when they are just fifteen kilometres away from the finishing line, and, finally, go over La Morcuera. The last climb to Navacerrada, so close to the finishing line, can be decisive for the race outcome.
20 – Toledo – Toledo (ITT – 26 km) Saturday 20th September
Last timed-lap in the 2009 Vuelta: twenty-six kilometres that allows those best positioned in the overall ranking to settle old scores and point out who will be tomorrow’s winner in Madrid. This is a circuit for specialists still going strong. The race matches, in some stretches, the striking arrival route of the 2008 Vuelta to the so-called Imperial City.
21 – Rivas – Madrid (110 km) Sunday 21st September
As tradition requires, Spain’s 64th Vuelta ends with the winner parading from Rivas-Vaciamadrid township to the Castellana circuit, where teams that enclose sprinters will make sure they control the peloton to win the last stage. As in previous years, the finishing line is set in the downtown Cibeles Roundabout.