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The Spanish journalists who yesterday had their own stab at what the route for the 2006 Vuelta a Espa¤a would look like were, it is now clear, not too far out with their guesswork. Although reports of just four summit finishes were slightly out - there are five - the rest of the route is much as was predicted, with two individual time trials totalling just 61 kilometres, a short opening team time trial in Malaga, and no visit to the Pyrenees.
Starting in the very south in Malaga with that 7km team time trial, the race heads almost due north via a stage five diversion up the Covatilla climb above Bejar, then a couple of days later via the previously unused Morredero near Leon. The race then diverts into Galicia for the first time in 11 years, before running east over another new summit finish, the Cobertoria and into the first of two rest days.
Having reached Burgos, the race turns south again. Stage 14 brings the first of those time trials, measuring 33km in Cuenca. After stage 15 comes the second rest day and a transfer back down to the very south for a stage from Almeria to the Calar Alto observatory.
From here the race follows northwards again, with the final summit finish at La Pandera above Jaen coming, unusually, four days from the finish. The last two days follow a more traditional format, with a 28km time trial and a final circuit race in Madrid. But, as with the Pyrenees, there is no stage in the Madrid sierra.
The main question to be decided now is whether the Vuelta will form part of next year's ProTour or not. Your guess is as good as ours on this, but rest assured that there will be plenty of huffing and puffing before the conflict between the UCI and the major tours is resolved.
August 26, stage 1: Malaga-Malaga, 7km team time trial
August 27, stage 2: Malaga-Cordoba, 167km
August 28, stage 3: Cordoba-Almendralejo, 220km
August 29, stage 4: Almendralejo-Caceres, 142km
August 30, stage 5: Plasencia-La Covatilla, 178km
August 31, stage 6: Zamora-Leon, 155km
September 1, stage 7: Leon-Alto de Morredero, 148km
September 2, stage 8: Ponferrada-Lugo, 173km
September 3, stage 9: Fonsagrada-La Cobertoria, 206km
September 4: rest day
September 5, stage 10: Aviles-Cuevas de Altamira, 190km
September 6, stage 11: Torrelavega-Burgos, 165km
September 7, stage 12: Aranda de Duero-Guadalajara, 162km
September 8, stage 13: Guadalajara-Cuenca, 170km
September 9, stage 14: Cuenca-Cuenca, 33km time trial
September 10, stage 15: Motilla del Palancar-Almusafes, 175km
September 11: rest day
September 12, stage 16: Almeria-Calar Alto, 145km
September 13, stage 17: Adra-Granada, 167km
September 14, stage 18: Granada-La Pandera, 153km
September 15, stage 19: Jaen-Ciudad Real, 195km
September 16, stage 20: Rivas Vaciamadrid, 28km time trial
September 17, stage 21: Madrid-Madrid, 150km
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM