The Vuelta a España comes to the Costa del Sol This year’s edition of the Tour of Spain – the Vuelta Cyclista a España – will visit Estepona before heading into the mountains and resuming the race in Antequera. Running from 24 August to September 15, the Vuelta is Spain’s most prestigious race, and arguably the third most important cycling tour in the world, after the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Instead of the green meadows of France and soft Mediterranean climate of Italy, the riders competing in the Vuelta a España face some of the hardest conditions in what is considered to be one of the toughest sports of all. Dry arid heat in the rocky interior can be followed by sweltering humidity in certain coastal areas, but along the Costa del Sol the international cycling elite will encounter cooling winds and more pleasant conditions. Last year’s winner and one of the greatest bike riders in the world, Alberto Contador, will be leading the pack through what he describes as “a particularly tough route” where the world’s best will be put through their paces. On 31 August, they will set out from Jerez de la Frontera and follow the 170-kilometre route of Stage 8 to Estepona, amid some spectacular scenery on the way. The huge cavalcade of bikes and cars will approach Estepona before veering off towards Peñas Blancas for a panoramic ending. There will be little time to party the night away in Estepona’s marina as the following day will see them all turning up bright eyed and ready at the start of the next stage in Antequera – on the other side of the coastal mountains. From here stage 9 of the tour will take them across the Guadalquivir valley in Andalusia’s interior up into the olive groves of Valdepeñas de Jaen. For both Estepona and Antequera, getting a stage of the Vuelta has been quite a coup, as it is will put the towns in the national and also international spotlight. Thousands will travel with the cycling circus and tens of millions will watch it on TV, while the residents and visitors to the Marbella region won’t have to travel far to see the excitement and action of one of Europe’s great sporting events. We don’t think Lance Armstrong will be receiving an invitation, but with the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, there will be plenty of sports stars to cheer on.