Picos de Europa, Covadonga, Basque Country, La Rioja, Andorra, The Pyrenees, Madrid Finale Ride
6 or 10 days, Fully Guided & Supported
4 star hotels and luxury retreats
Our 2nd Vuelta package packs it all in! We follow the all important last 10 days, right to the grand finale on the streets of Madrid. Our itinerary rides the race route on the Summit Finishes of North Spain and heads to the showdown on the penultimate Queen mountain stage in the High Pyrenees, as we cross the border into Andorra!
Spend a few days in the Incredible Picos de Europa mountains, and ride the most famous climb in Spain, the Hors Category Covadonga on race day, before hitting the the coastline of Asturias and Cantabria.
An amazing day awaits in orange Basque Country and new summit finish at the Balcon de Bizkayai. Head into the Rioja wine capital, enjoy a nearby stage depart before 2 super days in cycling´s playground , Andorra and her Pyrenees. Without a doubt, the road biking is diverse and exciting.
Plus your amazing chance to ride the 33km Time Trial circuit on race day, with race motorbike in support, you will feel like a pro! And with upgraded VIP finish line access and podium views for the finale in royal Madrid, including the women’s race, this will surely be an awesome cycling adventure.
It goes without saying “expect hills”, but our fully guided supported tour allows anyone with good fitness to enjoy this special trip. We also offer enough route options to ensure the most avid cyclist is challenged, but also take care of those with less experience. Our accredited support vans can drive the race route allowing for back up. Everyone will love the thrill of climbing the most challenging ascents in Europe on race day itself, plus with VIP stage finish access, behind the scenes race viewing and great hotels, this Grand Tour is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Our itinerary includes all the best parts of the final week, with great cycling and scenery of the area, from spectacular summit vistas, historical towns and cycling past breath taking landscapes.
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! We try to ensure there are enough options for all, including the most avid. Non cyclists also welcome – we have a private van for you to sight-see in and head to other race areas rather than sitting behind our cyclists all day (if preferred!).
Day 1. Madrid Transfer to Oviedo, Asturias
Saturday, 8 September 2018 – 30km
Meet in our centrally located Madrid hotel at 09:30 (option to leave bike boxes for those who bring their own bikes for return at end). After an informal welcome drink, transfer out to historic Oviedo, the gateway to Asturias. Arrive at our team hotel , our base for tonight as a path to the Picos tomorrow.
Set the bikes up and take a short ride around. An option exists to ride the local Narranco climb, a stage finish of La Vuelta in 2016, Cangas De Onis, Spain – a 5.5km ascent to the towering statue of Christ above the city with great views. After this warm up ride, enjoy a group welcome dinner. A relaxing and great way to set us up for our upcoming adventure.
Ask about options to come the day before and enjoy Madrid. Extra nights in Madrid at our meet hotel can be booked upon request. (Note: today´s transfer is 5 hours so another option is to meet in Oviedo if preferred.)
Day 2. Lagos (lakes) de Covadonga, Picos de Europa, Llanes, Asturias
Head out to one of the highlight stages of this year’s Vuelta. We will meet the race route as we head along the green northern coastline. From the sea, head over the cat 1 Alto de Fito,Cangas De Onis, a climb where often there are cows roaming wild across the hillside! The top is very special with 360 views over Asturias.
However today is all about the ascent to the Lagos de Covadonga, a hors category thriller which is the most important and famous climb in Spain and many Vueltas over the last 30 years have been decided here. Last featured in 2016, Quintana won the stage on his way to the title. Past stage winners also include Pedro Delgado, Lucho Herrara, Robert Millar and Laurent Jalabert. The local fans will be out in force, being a Sunday, and the atmosphere electric on this magical ascent. The 13 km climb has an average gradient of 7.5%, but watch for a short ramp at 15%! A tough “Especial” (Hors Cat) climb with an ascent gain of 900m. With cheering spectators lining the route, at the top we will have special VIP access at the stage meta (finish line).
After the excitement of the stage, descend down the mountain and we take a transfer to the majestic seaside town of Llanes, one of Asturia’s favourite beach resorts and our base for the next 2 nights. Our 4 star hotel for the evening is set within walking distance of the historic centre for you to explore.
Day 3. Picos de Europa, Llanes, Asturias
Today is a rest day for La Vuelta, but not for us. Being well located in this magnificent area it is the perfect opportunity to ride the roads of the coast and then through the Picos again.
Riding from the hotel, enjoy the beautiful Vuelta, alto del Torno climb. The road winds downwards before climbing back up the gentler category 3 alto de Cabrales. Then we will offer the chance to ride to the top of the Sotres climb, a category 1 climb that was used in La Veulta 2015 or a loop back to the hotel. The Picos are a highlight of any bike tour and the Cabrales area is itself famous for a strong blue cheese – probably not the best thing to eat before the ascent to Sotres!
After this scenic ride, head into a sideria (cider house) to try the regional brew and have a go at pouring the cider from high above your head as the locals do!
Day 4. The Time Trial, Cantabria, Bilbao, Basque Country
75km (33 km time trial route)
Take an early morning ride along Spain’s Cantabrian coastline. Cycling past the beaches of Comillas, arrive at the medieval town of Santillana del Mar.
We have an unique opportunity, VIP stage access Vuelta 2018 due to our official operator status, to RIDE today’s individual time trial (ITT) route of 33km with a race motorbike in support! An amazing experience we ride the roads through the local countryside that the pros will be cycling a few hours later. Although the Vuelta classes the route as flat, there are some short hills that will split the field up.
Afterwards at the VIP finish line watch what could be one of the most important stages of the whole race. Could this time trial play into the time trial specialists such as Froome or Domoulin (if they are riding) against the pure climbers of Quintana and Chaves? A few seconds could be key here before heading into the final mountain stages.
After the drama of the ITT, we move onto the capital of the Basque Country, Bilbao. We have planned a drink with a very special ex-pro rider who you can chat to and ask what it is like to ride a Grand Tour with the best in the world. Enjoy a group dinner together, and maybe take the opportunity to walk into the historic centre.
Day 5. Guernica, The Balcón de Bizkaia, Logroño, Rioja
We take a quick transfer out to jump ahead of the race and get ready to ride the “medium” mountain stage 17. We concentrate on a classic route through the Basque Country, passing through the infamous town of Guernica.
We will be thinking of the big challenge of the day – the new and challenging summit finish of Monte Oiz, or the Balcón de Bizkaia.
La Vuelta organisers never like to disappoint in introducing new and steep climbs annually – this year is no exception. This inaugural cat 1 climb will be a tough challenge as we attempt to pedal up this mountain with surprsingly steep pitches of 17% and the last 2kms averaging 10%!
Make it to the top and ride across the finish line to experience what it is like to finish a grand tour stage. Enjoy the fantastic views and then it is time to sit back and enjoy a well deserved beer and tapas, awaiting the ensuing spectacle. This stage could be where the race is won and lost.
After the stage has finished, we take a transfer to our hotel in the Rioja wine capital of Logroño.
Explore the historic centre, the incredible cathedral towering above the main plaza, and of course enjoy a glass (or more!) of the local wine. This city is beautiful to stroll at night.
Day 6. VIP Stage Depart, Andorra
Rest day or up to 50 km
Head out from Logroño for the chance to be part of the stage depart in the medieval town of Ejea de los Cabelleros. With our special VIP access, we will enter the depart village, sample Vuelta hospitality and watch the sign on of the riders. You will be able to walk around spotting celebrities from the world of cycling. This is your chance to see the team buses, watch the pros prepare for the day and grab that photo! A really enjoyable and fascinating start to the day.
Today’s stage is a flat transitional one as the riders head towards Lleida – a stage likely to be of little importance to the General Classification. So after watching the race depart, we have decided to transfer from here directly to Andorra and the Pyrenees, to be ready for the next 2 big days coming up.
A more relaxed day, we will have the option of a shorter ride from our hotel base in Andorra in the late afternoon, or indeed the opportunity to take a total rest day off the bike. We will all be thinking of saving our legs for the Pyrenean stages tomorrow! Enjoy a group dinner together in the different country of Andorra.
Day 7. Col de la Rabassa, Pyrenees, Andorra
Head out from our hotel to fantastic valleys and foothills of the Pyrenees. This area traditionally features in La Vuelta, and the race even passed through last year. The ex-Spanish pro rider Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez calls Andorra his home, and works with La Vuelta to design the stages. In 2015 he designed what many thought was the hardest ever stage to be featured in a Grand Tour. He was obviously a climbing specialist! Our route today takes us to a famous climb of the area, and you have the option to ascend the cat 1 Coll de Ordinio, a truly beautiful climb featured in tomorrow’s stage.
From here, join the race and turn our thoughts to the main challenge of the day, the summit finish at the Coll de la Rabassa. A forested ascent, at 17km long, this cat 1 leads us up 1100m of climbing, before we finish at a height of over 2000m. Luckily we have a lot of time to climb!
Watch the race pass on the roadside with the fans. A great way to experience the race from a different perspective and cheer on the leaders. Watch in awe (or depression!) at the speed they climb after having just ridden it yourself.
After descending, we head back to the hotel. Have the evening out in the capital, Andorra de La Vella, a cosmopolitan city with limitless restaurant options and places to eat.
Day 8. The Showdown, Coll de la Gallina, Pyrenees, Andorra, Lleida, Catalonia
La Vuelta have done it again and served up an incredible finish that will leave us guessing the winner of this year’s Vuelta until the very last possible moment. This is your chance to ride the Queen Stage and be there with VIP access at the stage finish.
For us mere mortals, this see-saw stage can almost be regarded as inhumane! At only 105km long it manages to squeeze in 6 category climbs, making almost 4000m of cumulative climbing. We will attempt only part of this crazy stage. After the (optional) ride over the classic cat 1 Beixailis climb, we will ride the gentler and scenic cat 3 Comella to the base of the Gallina.
The Gallina is a famous Vuelta climb, last used in 2013. At 9km long, the average is 8% with some ramps at 16% – a real challenge to get to the top of this cat 1.
Being Saturday, the crowds will be out in force and the atmosphere electric. Watch all the action unfold from the special access VIP area, and be there to see the winner in waiting of La Vuelta 2018. This will be a truly epic stage, worth being there to ride, see and savour.
After the day´s events, we transfer from Andorra and head south to be ready for tomorrow’s finale in Madrid. La Vuelta organisers like to make the race exciting by finishing in the Pyrenees, but for the teams, the caravan and us following it, will all have to endure a longer transfer after the stage. We will drive 2 hours to Lleida and arrive later than usual at the hotel. But luckily we don’ t have to think about riding our bikes tomorrow!
Day 9. The VIP Finish, Madrid
Transfer & Neptuno VIP Madrid!
After breakfast we drive to Madrid (4 hours) to our fantastic city centre 5 star hotel. We arrive ready to be at the impressive finish line circuit for the afternoon’s final stage.
As an added bonus, we also offer you the chance to watch the UCI women’s one day La Vuelta race, the Madrid Challenge, shortly before the men’s finale.With drinks in hand, await the colourful peloton that will stream past 10 times as it laps the city. A day for the sprinters, the winner of the La Vuelta will be safely shepherded in the surviving peloton.
Today we have exclusive upgraded VIP stage access, with exceptional catering, a complimentary bar, and a garden party style enclosure with big screens beside the finishing straight, all incuded in the package price! This is different from the VIP stage finish access. A very special way to enjoy and savour the end to Europe´s great sporting event. Be there to see the winner on the podium, as the sun sets over Madrid, wearing the final leader’s red jersey.
Day 10. Transfers and Onward Journeys
Monday 17th September 2018
After a final breakfast we say “adios” to each other. Or indeed take our option to stay in Madrid for a few more days to explore the city and her famous sights. Where ever you head onwards to, you will have the memories of experiencing an epic Grand Tour cycling event with you.
Road Cycling Tour – Guided – 10 DAYS / 9 NIGHTS
Bikes – Road – Carbon Road (TREK Madone or Emonda) / Alu.Carbon Orbea Road Bike
Route: Madrid, Oviedo, Asturias, Picos de Europa, Covadonga, Llanes, The Time Trial, Bilbao, Basque Country Summit, Rioja Wine Capital, Andorra, The Pyrenees, Madrid
Group Size – 4 – 16
Moderate / Challenging – The tour is suitable for experienced cyclists of all ages who have a good level of fitness and enjoy road biking. It goes without saying – expect climbs. 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. As there are many climbs we would class it as “challenging”, but it becomes “moderate” if the cyclist is willing to jump in the van when required. We are happy to invite non-riders to enjoy La Vuelta spectacle as we have an assigned guide and driver.
Specially chosen 4 star hotels, and 5 star in Madrid
All bedrooms are en-suite
All 9 breakfasts and 4 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!
- VIP access to stage finishes / depart villages. This includes a private race viewing area at the finish with complimentary drinks and tapas. We will also have access to the podium for your own photos, access to back stage areas. We work with La Vuelta organisers to make your experience unique.
- Upgraded VIP final stage access with catering and open bar in Madrid at the finish line
- Stay in some of the hotels as the pro teams
- Ride the race route until the finish line (we have access that the public will not have)
- Enjoy an evening drink and Q&A session with an ex-pro
- Our vans are accredited to drive the race route – jump in for a rest if required
- Ride with experienced guides, including the sub champion of Andalucia and a Vuelta a Espana Masters rider. We have been running Vuelta tours for 11 years consecutively and have over 13 years experience in Spain
- Complimentary full zip Cycling Country La Vuelta cycling jersey (choose your size when booking!) – bib shorts extra 70 Euros
- Complimentary Cycling Country gifts, bags, cycling caps, Vuelta t-shirts, luggage tags and water bottles etc
- Tour guide book of your route and official Vuelta 2018 race book (great souvenir)
- Route notes, maps, profiles
- Daily snacks and refreshments (protein bars, energy gels – NEW for 2018, granola bars, fruit etc and drinks)
4 to 5 leaders with full van support to pick up souvenirs, provide refreshments, act as guides, offer tips and insights throughout the day, provide directional signs where required, transfer luggage and provide on-road assistance. 1 or 2 guides cycle with the group.
You can bring your own road bike (we have facilities to collect and store bike boxes for the duration of the trip) or we can arrange good quality road bike hire:
- TREK Emonda S6 full carbon frame, Shimano Ultegra (11 speed), compact – 345 Euros extra
- TREK Madone 3.1 full carbon frame, Shimano 105 (10 speed), compact – 275 Euros extra
- Wheelset upgrades to Ultegra or Dura Ace wheels offered, given availability – please ask. If you do bring your own bike, we recommend a triple or compact chainset.
Many flight carriers access Madrid international airport. Madrid also has excellent rail and coach links throughout Spain. If you prefer, meet us in Oveido for Day 1 (Asturias airport is the nearest).
Revitalize, Refresh and Reboot in order to be ready to Ride the next day, that is the mantra of all cyclists (even or especially the Pros) on this tour! That is why our hotels will guarantee you that your sleep time will be well spent in comfort. Places which will allow you to ease into inaction, and calm that beating heart in the evenings. The hotels on this tour are of a 4 star luxury standard – they must be as we will be staying with the cycling teams some nights!
From country retreats to well located city hotels to allow you to explore the sights, our chosen lodgings will not disappoint.
Hacienda Don Juan. The main building pretends to harmonize aesthetically with the surrounding ones, ancient residences, has 32 rooms distributed over two floors. Some with terrace, some with living-room. All furnished seeking privacy and comfort.
The Meliá Madrid Princesa combines its excellent location in the heart of cultural Madrid with the numerous entertainment and leisure facilities the city offers nearby. Iconic sights such as Plaza de España, Puerta del Sol or Royal Palace within walking distance to enjoy the history and heritage of Madrid.
“With Cycling Country we made our first cycling trip to Europe. Geoff, Dean, Javi and the rest of the crew made our rides and say really happy. Balbino took care of my mom and showed her Spain while me and my brothers went riding, then we met at the finish line of La Vuelta stages. It was a terrific Trip and we will for sure do it again!!!”
D. Botero, Medalin, Columbia – La Vuelta 2017
“Awesome Vuelta a España tour, amazing VIP access, up close & personal with the riders!
We recently did a Vuelta a Espana tour with Cycling Country, and had an amazing time. The tour was well-organized and thought out, with rider enjoyment in mind, both from the perspective of riding and spectating. The Spanish-based company clearly has a very close relationship with the race organizers, which is to the benefit of Cycling Country’s clients. The VIP access to starts and finishes, as well as the podium, were unbelievable. Because the race is smaller, it is also much more intimate, enabling access to the riders. The behind-the-scenes access and perspective was very interesting, as was the talk from a retired rider. This was our third time doing a trip with Cycling Country, and the reason we chose them for our Vuelta shadow tour. Previously we have done self-guided tours or fixed-stay trips, and have been very impressed and pleased with the company and the service it provides. Geoff and Maggi are wonderful people and it shows in their dealings with clients. We would definitely recommend Cycling Country for any of its tours, but especially the Vuelta a Espana tour!”
Anne Tim, Toronto, Canada – 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
“That was an amazing trip to the Vuelta! So much behind-the-scenes access and some fab riding too. Thanks for everything!”
L.Rice, London, UK – 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!”
L.Sullivan, 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”
K.& R.Garland, 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”
D.Jones, Oxford, UK – La Vuelta 2013
Testimonials from previous cyclists are always available and we enjoy receiving the feedback after tours. It helps us improve our services and offer you an even better experience. Please feel free to contact us if you would like a reference to talk to. Others have also posted reviews on the independent travel website .
DATES & RATES
Select Date to Ask for Information and Availability!
LA VUELTA A ESPAÑA 2018
Last 10 Days To Madrid – Summits Of the North & Pyrenees – THE SHOWDOWN!
Single Supplement €575
SEPTEMBER 8 – 17, 2018
(Discounts for groups of 4+!)
Price includes all local taxes. Please note we transact in Euros.
- VIP Access to 5 stage finishes, viewing areas and Depart Villages
- Climb the Hors Cat Covadonga on race day to the finish line – the most famous climb in Spain!
- Ride some classic and scenic routes in the Picos de Europa Mountains
- Pedal through the Basque Country and try out a new Cat 1 Summit Finish
- Be there for the 2 final mountain stages in the Andorran Pyrenees, including the Queen Stage
- Ride the route of the Time Trial as a VIP with a race motorbike in support!
- Enjoy cycling past beaches, mountain villages and the natural parks and reserves of green North Spain
- Take an evening drink with an ex-pro and learn about riding a Grand Tour
- Ride the race route as a VIP, only hours before the pros arrive, crossing the finish line on race day! We work with La Vuelta organisers as an official operator
- Enjoy the diverse cuisine, wine, cider, culture & fascinating history
- See the finale in Madrid, including the women’s race, and the podium celebrations as an upgraded VIP
THE CC ADVANTAGE
We are a small Spanish company, so your enjoyment of this tour is paramount to us! Yes, there are bigger companies, but they may not be as invested in this Spanish tour as much as we are!
Cycling Country always looks for ways to make this Tour of Spain experience even better and work hard to do so.
We are Fully supported and led by 5 Local experienced guides, including Vuelta a Espana masters rider and mix of male / female guides
“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 J.
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