The Spanish racing season kicks off with the 21st Iberostar Challenge Ciclista Mallorca – down this year to four rather than five single-day races – raced around the island of Mallorca, the home of many a pro-cycling training camp during the winter months.
According to the organisers, Unisport Consulting, the costs saved from the reduction in length have allowed them to broadcast the race on Spanish terrestrial television.
Many of the riders who rode the 2011 Vuelta a Espana said it was the hardest Grand Tour they had ever tackled. Our initial view of this year’s route, which was unveiled in Pamplona today, suggests that 2012 will be even tougher.
The key features of the 2012 Vuelta route are:
- This will be the 67th edition of the Vuelta.
- Starts Saturday August 18th in Pamplona, ends Sunday September 9th in Madrid.
- 21 stages covering 3,300km, with rest days after stages 9 & 16.
- Ten uphill finishes, of which six are in the ‘alta montana’ high mountains (equivalent to ‘hors categorie’ at the Tour de France).
- Two time trials: one team, one individual.