- In: La Vuelta
VUELTA A ESPANA - SEP 6 - SEPT 16 2013
Follow the the Vuelta a España, the last of the Grand Tours with Topbike. After a start in Toulouse we chase the race as it crosses the border of the Pyrenees to France, back into Spain and wind our away across Asturias to the infamous climb of Angliru. Plenty of remote cycling on winding ancient roads through mountains and quiet villages. Capped by a street race finish in Madrid.
Topbike Tours Itinerary 2013
La Vuelta - Toulouse to Madrid 6/09/2013 – 16/09/2013
Friday, September 6
Us: Pick up Toulouse Railway Station, 11.00am. Once everyone has arrived, we'll load the vans and transport south to Arreau, deep in the Pyrenees (150k, 2h). Here, in a rural location, we will spend 2 nights in a small hotel, that has had the Tour de France pass it's doors many times. After lunch, we'll organize our bikes and get out for a ride in our environs. There's col d'Aspin just across the river, which we can preface with the climb of Hourquette d'Ancizan (recently sealed and now used regularly in the TdF) it's a 45k loop with just under 1500m of ascent, that may suit us today. Tonight we will enjoy our welcome dinner, prepared inhouse. Ride 'easy' one to two hours. (Ride 'med-hard', two hours plus)
Them: Stage 13, Valls Castelldefels, 165 km
The day before the Vuelta a España's arrival in the Pyrenees could be marked by various aspects. Firstly, by the wind, which could greatly affect the day's progress. If the wind is strong, the stage could be extremely challenging and complicated. All the riders will have to be careful not to lose everything they have worked so hard to gain thus far in the past two weeks. Secondly, not many riders will be willing to spend all their energy on this stage, as reserves are already running low. The next three days will take place solely in the Pyrenees and every effort made could potentially take its toll later on. It will be a fast, anxiety-driven day. However, the climb up the Rat Penat mountain pass promises to be one of the day's highlights.
Saturday, September 7
Us: While the Vuelta racing is heading our way, we'll take time to experience one of the most iconic climbs in cycling history, the Tourmalet. We can ride out from Arreau, over the Col of Aspin, that starts just out of town. Beyond Col d'Aspin, from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, the Tourmalet ascent commences. It is 17.2 km in length, gaining 1,268 m, at an average of 7.4% with a maximum of 10%. It's an excellent climb and a most rewarding descent. Returning over the Aspin has us back in Arreau for another evening.
(Ride: < 80km, with 3 hills)
Them: Stage 14, Bagà Andorra - Collada de la Gallina, 164 km
This is the first stage in the Pyrenees. The Vuelta returns to one of the most spectacular settings of the 2012 edition. The previously unprecedented Collada de la Gallina mountain pass allowed us to witness one of the most attractive battles in recent cycling history. Valverde, Joaquim Rodríguez and Contador kept the aficionados hooked on a race that broke all records. The Movistar team leader imposed himself in a tight finish against Purito and the eventual Vuelta winner. This 164-kilometre journey, almost entirely in Andorran territory, will also consist of the Envalira mountain pass that, with an altitude of 2409 metres will be the Alberto Fernández climb of this year's edition of the Vuelta.
Sunday, September 8
Us: 17k up the road from us, in the opposite direction to the Tourmalet is the Col de Peyresourde, which is where the final climb to the stage finish at Peyragudes kicks from. It's the Vuelta's longest stage, and we'll have all day to make it to the final climb, riding as much or as little of the course as we feel, along the way. There'll be big crowds as the Pyrenees always attracts many of the Basque cycling fans, just to add to the mix of the French and Spanish already present. 'twill be lovely to finally get a look at the bike race, face to face. Back to Arreau tonight for dinner. (ride >60k, at least one climb)
Them: Stage 15, Andorra Peyragudes, 232,5 km
The peloton will face its longest stage right in the heart of the Pyrenees. The 230-kilometre journey that joins Andorra and the Peyragudes mountain pass, in France, will determine the number of riders who will fight it out for the ultimate triumph. This mountain stage will end at the summit where Alejandro Valverde won his last stage of the Tour de France. The day's four mountain passes will mean changes in the general classification and will leave many riders out of the running to reach their final goal. Those who obtain a good place during this tough stage will not necessarily win the Vuelta, but those who have a bad day will have definitely ruined their chances completely. The Vuelta a España will, once again, have an arrival in France after the arrival at Cauterets back in 2003. In this way, the Vuelta pays homage to the 100th edition of the Tour de France.
Monday, September 9
Us: Today's stage is all south of us. We'll pack up and use the Topbike mini-buses to head out of town, and make our way into Spain. We'll hit the course running, or riding if you prefer, and ride as much of the course in front of the riders as we can. If we get caught before the hilltop stage end, we'll catch the finish of today's stage, live via the tele, in a local bar, amongst the locals, nothing better. Tonight we'll be moving on to the region of Huesca, not far from the stage start. (Ride >60k)
Them: Stage 16, Graus - Sallent de Gállego. Aramón Formigal 147,7 km
This is the third and last day in the Pyrenees. The peloton bids farewell to Aragon in this sixteenth stage that will take us from Graus to the Formigal ski resort. The 147-kilometre route may be the least demanding out of the three days spent in the Pyrenees, but the riders' flailing energy will be obvious by now. The peloton will have already pedalled for many, many kilometres and the pressure experienced in the mountain stages may take its toll on more than a few riders. This stage will pay homage to Fernando Escartín, one of the best climbers ever to emerge from Spanish cycling.
Tuesday, September 10
Us: Today's Vuelta rest day gives us the opportunity to get out and ride all day long. We're in Huesca (Spanish and Aragonese pronunciation Uesca) one of the least populated provincial capitals in Spain, which means, in an ideal world, there is less traffic here. Sounds good huh? There's an 110k loop, with just under 1,500m of climbing that is a good start to the days proceedings, and if that, along with a long lunch is not enough, we'll find some more for the afternoon session. Another night in Huesca tonight; it's a good accomm here too. (>110k two major climbs)
Them: Rest day
Wednesday, September 11
Us: We're on the move again, and this time we'll be going directly to the stage start in Calahorra. We'll get to visit the team buses, witness the riders signing, on and generally just get amongst all the action, before we wave the riders off on their 185k stage. Once they're on the road we'll get on the road too, and leapfrog over them to our next accomm, just 55k from the stage finish in Burgos. There's two Cat 3 climbs towards the end of the stage and not far from our base, so we'll aim to saddle up and be at the top of one of these to cheers riders as they crest, and head on down towards Burgos. It's a good stage for a 'Rouleur' to steal away in a break, and stay away. Accommodation tonight in the wine region of La Rioja, not far from the Oca mountains. (Ride: <70k, with hills)
Them: Stage 17, Calahorra - Burgos 184,5 km
After several consecutive mountain stages, sprinters will once again have their chance. With only five days until we reach the Castellana, the peloton will have to cover 182 kilometres between Calahorra and Burgos. The riders will have had a rest day after their efforts in the Pyrenees and Alberto Contador's performance at Fuente Dé after the second rest day in the 2012 edition will be on everyone's mind. It will be a day in which to attempt to break away and to try to recuperate some strength before facing the much-feared Asturian mountains.
Thursday, September 12
Us: It'll be a ride out-ride in type of day today. After breakfast we'll head out on the bikes down to Burgos to watch the start. If we feel up to it we can head out in front of the peloton, before they fire up and get a good ride on the course. Once the peloton catches us we can turn our heads for home and return to La Rioja, to watch the remainder of today's stage live on the tele. Dinner tonight inhouse again. (Ride flat-ish, >110k)
Them: Stage 18, Burgos - Peña Cabarga 186 km
Before facing the final few days, the peloton will once again enjoy an explosive finish in Alto de Peña Cabarga. Joaquim Rodríguez and Froome already know what it feels like to cross this finish line first. In 2010 and 2011, they won two victories now remembered for their spectacular performances as well as for the wonderful atmosphere that always surrounds the final climbs. Before facing the Asturian mountains, the riders will attempt to retain whatever is left of their strength after almost three weeks of the Vuelta.
Friday, September 13
Us: We're on the move once more, aiming to see the riders on course. We'll base ourselves in Mieres, which is 27k and three small(ish) climbs from the finish. How much of the path to the finish, you wish to experience, will be up to you. From Mieres it's just 10k up the road to our next hotel, high in the hills, where we'll spend two nights not far from the infamous Angliru. (ride <60k)
Them: Stage 19, S. Vicente Barquera - Oviedo. Alto Naranco 177,5 km
The third last stage of the Vuelta brings us back to the Principality of Asturias. The day will start off with a departure from San Vicente de la Barquera and will end at the Alto del Naranco, a 1st category climb. The 177-kilometre journey will not make much of a difference in the general classification. Those riders with the chance to fight for the ultimate triumph will preserve their energy for the dreaded second last stage that will end in the Alto de l'Angliru. The game is well and truly on and the Asturian mountains will decide who wins the 68th edition of the Vuelta a España.
Saturday, September 14
Us: It's all about Angliru today. The base of the final climb is just 25k away, and there a couple of avenues to ride there, either along the course to the south, taking in another Cat 1 climb along the way, or the road that enters from the north. You could take it easy in Mieres, as the race does pass through, close to our hotel again, but who could possibly resist Angliru? (ride at least 50k plus Angliru)
Them: Stage 19, Avilés - Alto de L´Angliru 144,1 km
For the sixth time in its history the Vuelta a España will finish a stage at the Alto de l'Angliru. For many, this is the toughest climb you can face in any race throughout the entire cycling calendar and it will surely mean another unforgettable chapter in the history of the Spanish tour. Crossing this particular finish line first is a challenge for many riders. The winner will not only have another victory under his belt, but will have conquered one of the mythical climbs in the cycling world - Its ramps, as well as the atmosphere that always surrounds the race as it passes through this mountain, guarantees a spectacle worthy of a truly outstanding Vuelta. The Cordal, which will have to be tackled before l'Angliru, will be the icing on the cake for the stage winner.
Sunday, September 15
Us: We'll make an early start to head down to Madrid (drive 4h, 430k). hopefully we'll arrive with enough time to tick off a few of those tourist attractions around central Madrid, before the race arrives. In the afternoon we will hop on the Madrid Subway (or simply walk) over to the finish line and watch the procession of laps for the finish of La Vuelta Espana 2013. Tonight, we do it like the locals and take a Tapas dinner at downtown Madrid at one of the oldest and most famous Tapas bars. There's one sure way to get something everyone wants for dinner, just start at the top of the tapas list and start ordering.
Them: Stage 21, Leganés / Parquesur - Madrid 99,1 km
The suffering is over. The moment has arrived at last to applaud the efforts of all the riders who have been able to complete the three weeks of the Vuelta a España. The winner will have the chance to ride through the streets of Madrid wearing his winner's jersey, but the capital's spectators will recognise, as always, the work of all those who cross the finish line at the Castellana. The 99-kilometre route from Leganés to Madrid will allow us to finally discover Alberto Contador's successor.
Monday September 16:
Us: Time for packing up, farewells, and making our way to our next travel connections, unless you have chosen to stay on for a couple of days to explore Madrid in a bit more depth.
This tour includes:
- All transport in the Topbike air conditioned mini-bus from Toulouse to Madrid for you, your bike and one bag.
- 10 nights accommodation: 5 Locations, 3 nights Arreau, 2 nights Huesca, La Rioja & Cenera and one night Madrid (twin share)
- All breakfasts and all dinners
- Full back up vehicle and mechanical support on every ride.
- A five piece Topbike cycle clothing Kit.
- Energy bars and carbohydrate drink powder.
- Experienced cycling guides.
- Detailed maps of all ride routes.
- Transfers in the Topbike A/C Vans.
- Tips, coaching if requested.
- Non cyclists also catered for.
- All particular dietary requests are catered for, just let us know.
- Please pack your bike in a collapsible bag or disposable cardboard box.
[See our FAQ's and recommendations section on packing your bike]
- Hire bikes can be organized at an additional cost of $660. There is a limited number of 2010/11/12/13 model 'Giant Defy Advanced' bikes with compact gearing, provision of these will be on first reserved basis (and also depending upon frame size match).
- Please also see our recommended list of things to bring, it is most important to bring front and rear flashing lights.
- NB: The itinerary above is to be used as a guide only, as Topbike Tours are well known for making use of all (and creating some extra) opportunities, expect that variations from the above can happen at any time.