Cycling: This year’s Vuelta to be decided in the mountains

MADRID (Reuters) - Tour of Spain organizers are hoping the 2018 race will be decided in the mountains as they unveiled the course for the next edition on Saturday.

The three-week Vuelta, which will start from Malaga on Aug. 25, will feature nine summit finishes and less than 40km of time trialing.

The riders will start with an eight km prologue in Malaga and the other solo effort against the clock will be over 30.7 km in Torrelavega at the beginning of the third week.

“We want the mountains to be key again to decide the Vuelta,” said race director Javier Guillen.

Briton Chris Froome, last year’s winner, will not defend his title. He was the first British rider to win the Vuelta and the first man to claim a Tour de France/Vuelta double in the same season since the Spanish race was moved to after the Tour.

However, Froome had previously announced that he would attempt the Giro d'Italia/Tour double this year, meaning it would be too demanding to race the Vuelta after two grand tours.

The Briton could be stripped of his Vuelta title if he cannot provide a satisfactory explanation of why a urine test he gave after Stage 18 on Sept. 7 showed excessive levels of an asthma medication called Salbutamol. [nL3N1OD2VD]

The 32-year-old Froome, who rides for Team Sky, said he had done nothing wrong and would provide "whatever information" world cycling's governing UCI requires.

Salbutamol is permitted as a legal asthma drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the UCI said Froome's failed urine test did not necessitate a mandatory provisional suspension.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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