Itzulia Basque Country 2024 route

Route information for the 2024 Itzulia Basque Country
Route information for the 2024 Itzulia Basque Country (Image credit: Itzulia Basque Country)

After being criticised by riders for a downhill finish riders considered 'shameful' and 'way too dangerous', the 2024 Itzulia Basque Country route largely avoids similar finishes for 2024.

Primoz Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease A Bike), Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) and the other top contenders for Itzulia Basque Country will face a typically climb-crammed route in this year's race.

Running from April 1-6, the 832.1km course, revealed on Friday in the stage 1 start town of Irun, is set to be the first 2024 encounter between at least three of the principal four favourites for the upcoming Tour de France. Only Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will be missing.

On the menu for Vingegaard – who won Itzulia Basque Country last year in convincing style – and his rivals are a short opening time trial, back in the race after a two-year absence, and five stages featuring the usual relentless rollercoaster of punchy, technical climbs and twisting, often treacherous, descents.

Vingegaard will doubtless be pleased to see organisers have opted to repeat stage 6 of the 2023 race, which he won comfortably, in its entirety. A year ago, the Dane broke away on the second last climb of seven in what was by far the toughest stage to finish alone and lay down a major marker for the Tour de France, and he will doubtless be hoping to put on a similar display this year.

With no fewer than 22 classified climbs on the route as well as time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds on offer at each finish, there will be plenty of opportunities for an aggressive, wide-open race in the 2024 Itzulia Basque Country.

Stage 1

The first day, though, starts the race in a relatively sedate style with a solo time trial, just 10 kilometres long and with one short mid-course climb. The distance should establish an initial hierarchy among the GC favourites, but without establishing any major gaps. It is also worth remembering, though, that each time Primož Roglič won Itzulia Basque Country, in 2018 and 2021, he also won the race’s time trial.

Stage 2

The second stage of the 2024 Itzulia heads out of Irun and takes in a large loop before finishing in Kanbo across the French Basque country. The stage never goes over any major climbs - the single classified ascent is a cat. 3 at Saint-Ignace, but the route undulates throughout before an uphill sprint finish.

The climbing gets more serious on stage 3 of the Itzulia on a 190.9km route from Ezpeleta to Altsasu. The stage has six classified climbs and over 3,000 metres of climbing between the three category 2 and category 3 ascents, starting with the 7.8km ascent to Otxindo from kilometre zero. A tough 6.3km climb comes inside 20km to go and could exclude most of the sprinters but a flat plateau before the line could be enough for them to chase back on.

The profile of stage 4 looks very much like the previous day but with fewer climbs and a less severe ascent before the flat finish. The 157.5km stage from Etxarri Aranatz to Legutio is the sprinters' second best chance for a result during the race.

The fifth stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Amorebieta-Etxano starts quietly but gets much more raucous halfway through the 175.9km stage when riders hit the category 1 climb at Urkiola. The 5.5km climb averages 9.4% and precedes two laps of a 26.8km circuit that contains two climbs - one cat 3 and a smaller uncategorised climb that riders hit just before the finish in the cycling-mad town of Amorebieta.

The Itzulia organisers have saved the queen stage for last - a short but vicious series of loops around Eibar with seven classified climbs. 

The race leader will have to face the biggest test of all on stage 6, where three first-category ascents, three second-category climbs and a final third-category test close to the finish in Ermua, are all crammed into just 137.8km.

The stage hits the cat 3 Elkorrieta climb en route to the much harder Azkuri climb (5.1km at 7.4%) which in turn is followed directly by another long climb at Gorla (9.6km at 5.7%). There's hardly any rest before the next cat 1 at Krabelin (5km at 9.6%) that tops out just after the halfway point in the stage. Three more climbs include the cat. 1 Izua (4.1km at 9.2%) with 27.8km to go and the more gentle Urkaregi (5km at 4.8%) before the finish.

With virtually no space for recovery at all between each ascent and everything to play for, the final stage of Itzulia Basque Country is renowned for its unpredictability. So even if the absence of Mount Arrate, Euskadi's most emblematic climb, for a second straight year, will be regretted by some fans, there is no doubt such a tough 2024 route will produce a worthy successor to Jonas Vingegaard in 2023.

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Monday, April 1Stage 1Irun-Irun (ITT)10km
Tuesday, April 2Stage 2Irun-Kanbo160km
Wednesday, April 3Stage 3Ezpeleta-Altsasu190.9km
Thursday, April 4Stage 4Vitoria-Gasteiz - Amorebieta175.9km
Friday, April 5Stage 5Amorebieta - Amorebieta165.9km
Saturday, April 6Stage 6Eibar - Eibar137.8km

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