Preview: Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucia “Ruta Del Sol”
After last week’s “opener” in Mallorca, the season proper starts in the south Spanish region of Andulucia with the Ruta Del Sol on Sunday the 16th. February.
All eight Spanish teams will be there with some-thing to prove, Kelme will want to keep up there winning ways after the Challenge de Mallorca. Not too many foreign teams as past years, only Alessio from Italy, Rabobank (H), Phonak (Sw), AG2R (F), Lotto-Dommo and Quick-step from Belgium and three from Germany, Telekom, Coast and Gerolstiener, who all have Spanish riders on their rosters.
The Vuelta a Andulucia is a proper stage race, where as in Mallorca it is only training races with each stage really being a separate race. This is five hard days, not super hard, but it should show who is going well. No time trial to mess things up, so should be a hardman who wins overall.
Stage 1 is 179.6 kilometres round Cordoba, 5 climbs could sort them out, but nothing over 800 metres and a down hill finish.
Stage 2, Sevilla to Huelva, starts from the Cruzcampo beer factory (one of my fav’s), 165 kilometres with one mountain prime in the middle, probably a day for the sprinters.
Stage 3 again starts from Sevilla, this time on a steady climb all day up to the Alto Nuestra Senora de Araceli, which is near the Village of Lucona and is 850 metres high and a 1st. cat summit finish.
Stage 4, Cabra to Jaen, 174 kilometres with 5 climbs, the highest at 1,200 metres, this is the day the climbers show how they have wintered. All day it’s up or down.
Stage 5, another mountainous day from La General (Granada) to Benalmadena, a 176 kilometres and six “Puertos” to cross, three are over 1,000 metres, but the last 36 kilometres are fairly flat, so there may be a regroupment for the run in.
This race has had quite a few foriegn winners in the past, always a good place to show your Director Sportif how you are going, and I think this year will be a home win, but you can never tell. Should be an exciting race, as usual Spanish TV are showing it live and I’ll keep you all up to date.