La Vuelta a España 2018
Tour 1 - Race Week 1 - Grand Depart - Andalucia - Summits of the South
Grand Depart, Malaga, Ride the Time Trial, Mediterranean Coastline, Lake District, Ronda, White Villages, The Cabra Climb, Granada, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Highest Road in Europe!
24th August to 30th or 31st August 2018 7 or 8 days
Fully Guided & Supported4 star Luxury Hotels & Country Retreats
Moderate / Challenging (non cyclists also welcome!)
from 2,485 Euros
This promises to be a fantastic week of road cycling, both for us and the peloton! We are excited to share with your our home region of Andalucia on the climbs and roads we regularly ride, and enjoy the most scenic cycling this area has to offer. Other Grand Tour 1st week's can traditionally be uneventful, but La Vuelta never is! With 2 summit finishes, mountain category climbs and a Time Trial for you to ride all packed in, the likely winner of La Vuelta will begin to emerge.
The route and stages we have chosen are breath-taking and encompass everything that makes Southern Spain such a great place to ride. Highlights include the double cat 1 stage to Granada, including the epic Cabra climb from the Mediterranean Sea - the most beautiful climb in Andalucía. Ride through protected parklands, challenge yourself on the Caminito del Rey finish high above a gorge, stay in Ronda in the stunning Parador, pedal alongside the sea and have the unique opportunity to ride the Time Trial circuit under La Vuelta supervision, just before the professionals. Plus you have the option of adding on a extra day to climb Pico Veleta, the highest road in Europe in the Sierra Nevada to a puff enducing 3398m - are you ready? With guaranteed sunshine in the south and passionate roadside fans, you could be here to witness and ride these sizzling stages all with VIP access.
Ride some of the prettiest roads of Southern Europe through the mountains, lake district and White Villages of Andalucia. With the cultural city of Malaga and the historical gem of Granada with her UNESCO Alhambra Palace - this route has it all. Have a look at some of the summits we plan to cycle!
La Vuelta's first week will not disappoint!
With fewer crowds than the Tour de France, VIP race access, and our expert local knowledge of the area, you are guaranteed an exciting and fun packed tour.
Not to mention, superb sunny weather! We have options for non cyclists (partners or just enthusiasts) to join the buzz of following a grand tour but also enjoy the sights of the area with our assigned guide.
With fine hotels where the teams stay, great food and tapas, beautiful cycling routes, full van support, quiet roads, inside access to the race, and the best race viewing areas, we can hardly wait to be there ourselves!
Our journey will start in Malaga and her Costa del Sol beaches (where we end) for the Grand Depart time trial before heading inland to the mountains and lakes. Try out the cat 1 Puerto de Leon, a Vuelta classic, after a some coastal riding. Cycle through the lemon, orange and olive groves before summiting the winding climb of the Alto de La Mesa as a VIP.
Venturing west to Ronda, surrounded by mountains and perched overlooking a gorge, we ride through the pueblos blancos area and over the Col of the Wind on race day. The roads around here are a cyclist's dream - low traffic, high mountain scenery and smooth surfaces. After a hillier morning, ride to the stage finish where we expect the sprinters to fight it out.
Meet the teams and see behind the scenes
Watch the pros ride the roads you have just ridden
Moving east along the Mediterranean, spend a night on the coast by the beach before heading out of the hotel for our Queen Stage - the double cat 1 day that includes the monster Cabra climb - a hairpin adventure with the most dramatic views back to the sea. Cycle near to our base as we head to Granada and the new cat 1 finish in the green sierras of Alfacar.
After a stage depart in Granada, your chance to get up close to the stars of cycling, we ride into the valley of Las Alpurrajas, following the race into the villages known for thermals and mineral water. We say adios...or add an extra day on to take on the the awesome Pico Veleta, the highest climb in Europe in the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. A worldclass climb, ascend to a previous Vuelta stage finish at 2500m, or if you feel the need, keep pedaling to a staggering 3398 metres. What a way to end this week in Andalucia!
View Vuelta a Espana Bike Tour 1 in a larger map
- Watch LIVE and Ride 5 race stages of La Vuelta a España 2018
- VIP Access to stage finishes (drinks, tapas, big screen tvs at finish line), viewing areas and VIP Stage Depart Village
- Ride the Individual Time Trial, under La Vuelta Supervision
- Cycle the race route as a VIP, only hours before the Pros arrive
- Access to ride across the finish line on race day
- Podium photos and behind the scences access - VIP status
- Tour of the media area, doping controls and technical areas
- Enjoy a drink with an ex-pro and understand what it takes to ride a Grand Tour
- Challenge yourself on category climbs including the Cabra, Alfacar, Caminito del Rey, Puerto Leon and Pico Veleta
- Cycle the mountain parks of Malaga, Ronda, Almunecar, & Sierra Nevada
- Enjoy the famous sights of South Spain. Options for non cyclists to spend time exploring.
- Fully supported riding by experienced guides, including Vuelta a Espana masters rider and mix of male / female guides.
- Fantastic accommodation (luxury 4 and a 5 star hotels and retreats), food, scenery and fun on the roads of Spain
Our itinerary (See Route Map under Overview) has been selected to include all the best stages of the 1st week, combined with some great cycling, sights and scenery of the area. The tour passes through dramatic mountain landscapes...not fogetting to stop in some great tapas and coffee bars to enjoy the area. Our tour will take you to some of the most famous towns (Málaga, Ronda, Granada) and cycle past the best scenery (Mediterranean Coastline, Natural parklands, lakes, gorges, UNESCO biosphere mountains).
Being fully guided and supported (with our support vans accredited to drive along the race route), you can cycle with the group or at your own pace, or even take a rest in the van! Non cyclists also welcome.
Friday, 24 August 2018
approx 40km warm up ride
We meet in the coastal city of Malaga (13:00 at our centrally 4 star located hotel), our base for the next 2 nights. After an informal welcome meeting and introduction with some chilled drinks, we set the bikes up, making sure everyone is fitted correctly. It is then time to head out on a short warm up ride alongside the Mediterranean Sea, passing the famous beach resorts of the Costa Del Sol. We will stop for a "team coffee" or beer, at one of the beaches.
Take a stroll alongside the sea front before settling down to enjoy a group welcome dinner. A relaxing start to get the legs going and great way to set us up for our upcoming adventure.
Ask about the option to come the day before and enjoy historic Malaga. Extra nights in Malaga at our meet hotel can be booked upon request.
Today you will have an incredible opportunity to ride the Individual Time Trial Circuit, just before the Grand Depart of La Vuelta 2018! Under La Vuelta supervision, we will ride the flat 8km route from the Pompidou Museum in Malaga, beside the marina, to finish outside the historic cathedral. A really unique experience, riding the roads just before the pros kick off. You will know what it feels like to start a Grand Tour!
With it only being a short time trial, we will have a great ride in the morning before the time trial. We have decided to focus on an iconic Vuelta climb of years gone by, the 15.8km cat 1 Puerto de Leon. Head up the "corkscrew" hairpins to 950 metres with an average gradient of 6% (but some corners at 10%) and marvel at the incredible views down to the blue sea and beaches below where you started. This climb (from the city side) was used last in the 2015 edition. After descending down the smooth tarmac road, we will be ready, and certainly warmed up for the Time Trial.
After riding the Time Trial, we will enjoy our first stage Finish VIP access as we watch the stars of Pro Cycling fight for the first leader's Red jersey. Enjoy hospitality drinks and finger tapas in the VIP zone.
We also have planned an informal drink with a very special ex-pro rider who you can chat to and find out what it is like to ride a Grand Tour. Afterwards, you have a free evening to explore Malaga and the bounty of dining options in the historic centre. We recommend a walk through the pedestrianized historic centre, complete with its imposing cathedral and Roman ampitheatre.
After a quick transfer out of the bustling city, we head inland into the rolling hills behind the coastline. After yesterday's flat time trial, today's one has the first categorized climbs of the race (two cat 3s to be exact). We will start pedaling the actual race route as the crowds gather. Being a Sunday, the fans will be out in force as we cycle this incredibly picturesque area of lakes and gorges, known as the lake district of Andalucia.
Passing through Alora the first time, we head up to the first cat 3 climb of the Alto de Ardales, a 7km ascent to get our legs turning. Have time to recover before riding a great loop crossing reservoirs and past the famous El Chorro gorge, an incredible geological feature of a narrow ravine with a river running below. Opened a few years ago, watch people literally hang from the cliffsides on the incredible Caminito del Rey, (King's walkway) as we pedal past.
We will ride the final cat 3, Alto de la Mesa, climb to the summit finish line. At 7km long, it is really the last 4km of this climb you will remember with an average gradient of 8% with some short ramps over 10%. This was where Esteban Chaves made his break through in 2015 and took the leader's jersey. The views from the top will be worth the hard climb as we overlook the gorge. A great finish location to enjoy our VIP stage access and time for an insider's tour of the inner workings of La Vuelta.
After the race, we take a tansfer to magical Ronda to be placed perfectly for tomorrow's stage. We will stay and have a fine group dinner at the luxury Ronda Parador Hotel, one of Andalucia's most loved hotels, set overlooking the famous picture postcard bridge. It couldn't be any more stunning.
After dinner, take time to stroll the medieval streets of Ronda, once home to Ernest Hemmingway and Orson Wells, and past the oldest bull ring in Spain.
After a good buffet breakfast, we mount our bikes and ride directly from our Parador hotel as we are already on the race route of Stage 3. We climb out of Ronda to the stunning natural park of the Sierra de Nieves and the Puerto de Viento, a fantastic climb (usually a categorised as a cat 3) to the karst landscapes and biosphere parkland in the mountains. Take a smooth descent to the white village of El Burgo before ascending again to Junquera.
We follow the race route to arrive back at the sandy beaches of Torremolinos before crossing the finish line in Alhaurin de la Torre. Sit back in the VIP stage finish zone with a drink and watch the race on the same roads you have just ridden. Unless some riders manage to escape for the day on the climbs, we envisage an exciting bunch sprint to decide the day's affairs.
After the stage we take a transfer along the Southern Coast to be perfecty located for tomorrow's big stage. We will stop en route at one of our favourite "chiringuitos", a beach bar, and try the local BBQ sardines on a skewer with a beer.
Spend the night, back on the coast, at our hotel in a beach resort on the Costa Tropical. Head out into the historic centre with it's Moorish castle high above, or take a walk along the boardwalk beside the sea.
We ride from our hotel to the race route and take on our challenging double cat 1 day. Our first test is the mighty Cabra Climb. This ascent is for many, including us, the most beautiful climb in Andalucia (beautiful for the views and smooth road, not the pain! - option available to take a van transfer). As the road winds up the mountain, pass through a rock tunnel and between wind eroded stone features - incredible.
After a celebratory photo at the stop, we head towards Granada, to climb our next cat 1 ascent, the new summit finish of Alfacar. Not as tough as the Cabra, but with some steeper sections, this will test our tired legs. With VIP finish access to enjoy, we will be afforded great views back to Granada with the back drop of the Sierra Nevada.
Today's stage and the finish here could significantly shake up the General Classification. Being a summit finish, it will also be a chance for the climbers to gain some points for the blue (yes not red!) polka dot jersey of the king of the mountains competition and of course a coverted stage win.
After the finish, we descend and take a transfer to our 5 star hotel in Granada for the next two nights. Maybe time to try out the spa to rest those legs as tomorrow is another challenging day.
Before dinner, watch the pro team mechanics at our hotel prepare the bikes (unfortunately, not our bikes, we still get to do that!) for the following day. They sometimes work late into the evening, meticulously cleaning, adjusting and lubing the prized machines - real unsung heroes of the teams.
We ride from our hotel to the nearby Stage Depart with VIP access, which is a great way of seeing the team buses and the behind the scenes with the riders relaxed (or stressed!), warming up and getting ready for their day's work. It's an opportunity as well to see the multi layered organization that makes this event come together and all the work that goes into it to make it a sucess. This is the place to grab a quick photo of your favourite rider. Watch the day's sign on and enjoy the fiesta atmosphere.
After the stage depart, we ride out along the route, this time behind the race. A much more relaxed day after yesterday's endeavours. We will head into the Alpujarras, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, passing through villages famous for mineral water and natural spas. A loop through the micro climate of the valley, hanging with oranges and avocadoes, brings us back to central Granada. Our guides will be from Granada and so know the best routes.
We enjoy our farewell group dinner together in a well regarded local restaurant, sampling some traditional Spanish fare, and celebrate the end of a great week of riding and watching La Vuelta.
Thursday 30th August 2018
After breakfast, it is time to say adios and wish you a safe onward journey with memories of a great VIP Grand Tour experience. We recommend staying on in Granada to visit the UNESCO heritage Alhambra Palace and explore this beautiful city (extra nights in the same hotel can be arranged upon request). We will be offering transfers back to Malaga centre/airport this morning if required (included in the tour price).
Or add an extra day on and ride to the top of the highest road in Europe - the "Ride to Sky". Being in Granada, we could not possibly leave this out! It is a bucket list climb for any cyclist and one that never fails to impress.
Leaving after breakfast, we will start off gently enough along a valley towards the Sierra Nevada mountains. From here there is quite a lot of up.....well 38km of it to be precise! We ride these roads regularly and know these climbs well. The mountain scenery here is, as expected, first class. The climb is not steep, averaging 6%, just long. But with a few coffee stops, if required, everyone will achieve the top.
At 28km up, we arrive at 2500m above the ski station. This was La Vuelta hors cat stage 15 finish last year where the Colombian 'superman' Lopez took the win. This is a fine achievement, but for those stronger cyclists, there is another 10km to go to reach the very, very top at an awe inspiring 3398m. Luckily we have all day to complete this ride!
Enjoy the descent back down to earth - you have earned it after all - and ride back to our hotel. A spectacular finish.
Friday 31st August 2018
After breakfast it's farewell to the Vuelta tour. We will be offering transfers to Granada and Malaga airports/centre for those who require them (included in the tour price).
However, for those who would like to continue the adventure, we are offering a transfer to Madrid to start the Vuelta 2 tour - the last 10 days to Madrid - (discounts apply - the VUELTA FIESTA!). As there are 5 days in between, we recommend time in Granada, Cordoba, Madrid (we can provide self-guided rides of the area if required and sightseeing suggestions).
- Specially chosen quality 4 and (a 5 star) hotels
- all bedrooms are en-suite
- 6 or 7 nights
- All 6 or 7 breakfasts and 3 group dinners (including wine, beer, soft drinks). On race days, we will be providing complimentary protein bars and energy gels for those who wish to ride without stopping - NEW for 2018!
- Extras Included
- Cycling Country is one of the very few official Tour Operators in the world designated to run this tour and we are proud to do so.
- VIP access to STAGE FINISHES and a stage village DEPART. Including private race viewing area at finish line with complimentary drinks and tapas. We have access to the podium for photos, plus a behind the scenes tour. We enter areas that are off bounds to most and work with La Vuelta organisers ensuring your VIP experience is unique.
- Ride the race route crossing the finish line on race day (access that the public will not have). Cycling across the finish line with your special access pass - not many can do that - aside from Quintana of course!
- Stay in some of the same hotels as the teams - your chance to see the stars
- An organised evening drink and Q&As with a very special ex pro!
- Our vans are accredited to drive the race route - jump in for a rest if required
- Ride with experienced bi-lingual local guides, including the sub champion of Andalucia and a Vuelta a Espana Masters rider - we have run Vuelta tours for 11 years
- Complimentary full zip Cycling Country La Vuelta cycling jersey (choose your size when booking!) - bib shorts extra at 70 Euros.
- Complimentary Cycling Country gifts, bags, luggage tags, water bottles, Vuelta tshirts and cycling caps
- Tour guide book of your route and official Vuelta race book (great souvenir)
- Route maps, profiles
- Daily snacks and refreshments (protein bars, energy gels (NEW for 2018!), granola bars, fruit etc and drinks)
- Activity Level
- Trek Emonda S6 carbon frame, Shimano Ultegra (11 speed), compact - 285 Euros extra
- Trek Madone 3.1 carbon frame, Shimano 105 (10 speed), compact - 235 Euros extra
- Pro wheelset uprades available - please ask. If you do bring your own bike, we recommend a compact or triple chainset.
Malaga, Time Trial, Lake District, Ronda, Costa Tropical Coast, Granada, Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada
(7 days, 6 nights - 6 ride Days - 5 Live Stage days, VIP entrances and Stage Departs), option to add on 1 more ride day to Pico Veleta (8 days, 7 nights)
Options to transfer back to Malaga (or Granada) at the end included in the price.
Moderate / Challenging - The tour is suitable for cyclists of all ages who have a good level of fitness and enjoy road biking - of course expect hills with steeper ramps! There are enough category climbs and mountains for the rider who wants to challenge themselves, whilst our support van enables other riders to enjoy the trip without worrying as you can take a rest or opt out of the bigger climbs. On the longer climbs everyone can ride at their own pace. There is the option for non-riders to come along - please enquire
Quiet country and mountain roads. Rolling countryside with longer mountain passes and steeper ascents.
You can bring your own road bike (we have facilities to collect and store bike boxes for the duration of the trip if required) or we can arrange good quality road bike hire:
5 staff members with full van support to provide support, refreshments, act as guides, offer tips and insights throughout the day, provide directional signs where required, transfer luggage and provide on-road assistance. 1-2 guides or more cycle with the group. Mix of male and female guides.
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.” Akira Kurosawa
Our hotels are a great collection of spots, keeping in mind that the days are full enough, you´ll want to be having some down time off the bike in a comfy environment.
All rooms are ensuite and have great facilities, being 4 star with great buffet breakfasts for us cyclists, we have chosen hotels that offer a great location to explore. And the best thing, you will be staying with the pro-teams on some nights.
Highlight hotels include the amazing Ronda Parador set overlooking the famous gorge spanning the gorge, and the seaside Parador hotel of Nerja. Finish with 2 nights at the 5 star Barcelo hotel in Granada, with its spa complex. First class accommodation in comfortable and beautiful settings.
Dates & Prices
|Dates For 2018||Price|
|24th August to 30th August 2018 (7 days)||Eur 2,495|
|24th August to 31st August 2018 (8 days - includes the 3398m ride!)||Eur 2,635|
|Discounts for groups of 4 or more!
Come along for the Vuelta 2 tour for the last 10 days to Madrid
- combined tour discount available!
|Single Supplement - 7 days||Eur 365|
|Single Supplement - 8 days||Eur 415|
*Price includes all local taxes. Please note we transact in Euros.
Enquire About This Tour
"A very big thank for making the Vuelta tour just fantastic. We had such a great time and wanted to write to compliment you all on making it such a wonderful experience. We enjoyed the rides and the race day access and the thrill of being there to see it all. You have some big climbs in Spain which I have been telling everyone about. We look forward to riding with Cycling Country again in the future."
M. Swanson, USA - La Vuelta 2017
"The Vuelta tour was probably the best bike tour I have ever done. Ok the days were long, but your team gave us the best access I have ever had to a Grand Tour. The routes you designed to ride the best climbs and see the stage finishes were exceptional. Chapeau!"
John, Ontario, Canada - La Vuelta 2016
"Let me write a few lines of thank you. I just can't believe what a trip you gave us all! It was truly a cycling tour that I will never forget. Well done to all of the Cycling Country crew and thank you again for the good times. The Vuelta was the ride of my life."
Steve, Sydney, Australia - La Vuelta 2015
"The Vuelta Tour 1 (Andalucia 2014) was memorable! The VIP access was exceptional, beyond my expectations. Cycling Country beautifully handled different levels of cycling abilities in the group in the smoothest way, the coordination among them was very professional and efficient, providing to the group an ongoing feeling of safety, support and fun. I will highly recommend them to all my friends and they honestly deserve to run such a successful business. Muchas Gracias for the extraordinary experience! Luisa"
Luisa, Colorado, USA - La Vuelta 2014
"Rob and I would like to take the opportunity to send you a big thank you for everything you organized for the tour. We had an amazing time. The ride routes where spectacular and the VIP access was fantastic. Dean and Javi were both lovely, very helpful and encouraging. We had the best time and keep reminiscing about the week wishing we were still in Andalusia. It definitely exceeded all our expectations and hopefully will see you at next years tour. Thank you again"
Kim and Rob, Australia - La Vuelta 2014
"Thanks Geoff and Dean for a truly wonderful week in northern Spain, climbing up all the famous climbs of the Vuelta's final week, then watching the pros do them in style, from the VIP vantage point of your preferred operator, special access status. The tour was expertly run and organised by you, accommodating all abilities with your usual skill and good humour. This is my third tour with Cycling Country and I hope there'll be more to come. Excellent local food and comfortable accommodation - add great company, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who are expert road cyclists themselves, and what more could a roadie want! Thanks once again"
David, Oxford, UK - La Vuelta 2013