Preview: Vuelta a España 2012

Contador, Froome and Cobo star in final grand tour of the season

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The 2012 Vuelta a España gets underway in Pamplona on August 18 with a 16.5km team time trial and finishes in Madrid three weeks and 3,360km later on September 9. The parcours features only one individual time trial, 39.4km in stage 11, while the climbers will be able to make their mark during seven mountain stages, including three (stages 15, 16 and 20) which finish on hors catégorie-rated ascents. 2011 champion Juan Jose Cobo returns to defend his title as part of the Movistar Team's line-up, with Team Sky's Chris Froome and Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador expected to challenge him for overall honours.

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