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La Vuelta Espaсa 2005 Route: Explained

The year’s final Grand Tour gets underway tomorrow in Spain, and PEZ will be there with digi-cam in hand. The route is a Spanish classic – with the right mix of flats, steep climbs, and TT’s that always makes for mucho bueno racing. Here’s our look at the route.

Always one step ahead, we settled in to Bar Pol-Mar in Alicante Spain, for our expert analysis of the 2005 Vuelta a Espaсa route. We asked the men who really know Spanish cycling – the average “man-in-the-street” – what he thinks, which is where he’ll find himself if he annoys the “jefe” (boss), Javi.

The “media club” of the PEZCycling Spanish bureau – the Bar Pol-Mar.

Meet The Experts
We took the Vuelta map and stage list to the Bar Pol-Mar to see what wisdom we could pull from the local experts, who include:
– Javi our barman and owner of the Cafe/Bar Pol-Mar, (one of 23 drinking establishments in my small village of Polop De La Marina on the southeast coast of Spain), he races and runs the local cycle club.
– Pedro must be in his 70’s, lived in the village for over 20 years, so still considered an newcomer and has an opinion on everything.
– Ximo, age unknown, German background, but not a fan of “BIG Jan”.
– Zak second in command of the alcohol, has no opinion.
– Old Josй, typical old school, and went home for his dinner before I could get his photo.

The discussion takes on it’s usual beer & caffeine induced meanderings, and it seems we’re here not so much steer the ship but to lob questions and topics for the crew to wrestle with.

Pedro and Ximo provide insightful route analysis for PEZ.

So who’s going to win? Come on – your guess is as good as ours… But Heras has to be favourite. At least the good thing about La Vuelta is you never know what can happen. A fast race, a hard race, that’s for sure. What do the bar-side pundits think? The general opinion is that it’s interesting but nothing new, no Angliru, and Millar won’t be there to provide his colorful antics either, so what else?

Javi is our congenial host, and most certified cycling fan on our panel.

Will The American Bloke Ride?
Pedro wants to know “will that American bloke ride? You know the one that wins the French race all the time”. “Is he scared to race in Spain?”- someone else pipes up. Well I say it’s not as simple as that, but he did finish fourth a few years back. Ximo answers “Ullrich won the Vuelta one year, where is he?”

“Well it’s a better race without the American,” says Javi. But what about this year’s course? “Well it’s a little bit bland, there are some exciting days, but nothing out-standing, should suit some-one who is not a super climber, but a good time trialist, Aitor Gonzalez perhaps.”

Three weeks, 3200km, 9 mountain stages – what a way to end the season or find form for the Worlds.

The race covers 3239 km and runs from August 27 to September 18 – finishing a week early to accommodate the World Championships in Madrid, a good idea, but don’t you think any serious contender will go home early to get themselves ready, or perhaps not start the Vuelta and train some where else without the pressure?

Amazingly, not everyone is as interested in the route as we are…

The start is in Granada, a time trial of 9 kilometers, which will finish up at the ancient palace of the Alhambra. This was the palace of the Moro’s (North Africans) who ruled Spain for 700 years. It was an Islamic country for all that time, but where I live there is still a feeling of distrust for them, it’s only been 500 years since the re-conquest of Spain, but well, best not to ask.

Barman Zak kept his nose clean – leaving the debating to those on the other sode of the bar.

When are the mountains?
“Are they’re any near here?” ask the lads, but alas, this year La Vuelta does not come near the Community of Valencia, shame because there are a lot of good hard roads and a lot of people to watch it. The first hard mountainous stage is the 6th stage from Cuenca to Valdelinares and then the closest it comes to here is Teruel taking us up to the first proper time trial in Barcelona which goes to the football stadium at the Camp Nou. “Well they are all communists there, aren’t they!” which is OK, it could be worse – they could have finished at the Real Madrid stadium (Bernabйu), like they did two years ago, now they are hated by all in the bar. They would rather watch Real get beaten than watch Valencia win.

Stage 10 kicks off 2 hard days in the high mountains of Andorra.

Back to cycling and La Vuelta, 6 mountain stages and 3 time trials, 2 rest days and the mountain Principality of Andorra thrown in for good measure. The high points are going to be the two summits finishes at ski stations – Stage 10 to the Ordino-Arcalis (2230 meters), and stage 11 to Aramуn Cerler Ski Resort (1930m). Anyone who’s been to Andorra knows the mountains are high and wild – some of the climbs are 50km long!

Andorra boasts some of the best tax free shopping and biggest climbs anywhere.

After the stages in Andorra to sort out the climbers, there is the first rest day followed by the race-making batch of days in the Pyrenees. The 14th stage from world champ, Oscar Friere’s home town of Torrelavega to Lagos de Covadonga will be the Queen of stages, this is the one Roberto Heras should show who is boss or the eventual winner will show who he is.

Stage 11 finishes with 13km uphill to the Aramуn Cerler Ski Resort.

Anyone else want to add anything? “Si, claro” old Josй, “it’s not like in Bahamontes day, what’s happened to the 300 plus kilometer stages?” OK can we stay in this century? “Yeah” Pedro again, “that French bloke, Jean Marie whatsisname?” “Le Penn!” (Ultra-right French politician) a comedian shouts. “No not that facista, the other one, the boss of the Tour de France (Leblanc), well him and Verbruggen run cycling”. Yes Pedro, they do, so what’s your point? “Nada, I just wanted to say it”.

Does anyone have anything else? “Si, who’s going to pay for all these drinks?”
Javi our barman asks. “The periodista should pay”. “He wont pay he is
Scottish”. OK that’s it I’m going home and it’s the last time I ask you viejo
coсazos (look it up) anything. Good night or as we say in this area, bona

Stage 14 could be the decisive day. 5 climbs over 170 km, and the filling in the Pyrenean 3-day grimpeur’s sandwich.

The Stages:
August 27, Stage 1: Granada-Granada TT
August 28, Stage 2: Granada-Cordoba
August 29, Stage 3: Cordoba-Puertollano
August 30, Stage 4: Ciudad Real-Argamasilla de Alba
August 31, Stage 5: Alcazar de San Juan-Cuenca
September 1, Stage 6: Cuenca-Valdelinares
September 2, Stage 7: Teruel-Vinaroz
September 3, Stage 8: Tarragona – Lloret de Mar
September 4, Stage 9: Lloret de Mar – Lloret de Mar TT
September 5, Stage 10: La Vall d’En Bas – Ordino Arcalis (Andorra)
September 6, Stage 11: Andorra-Cerler
September 7: Rest Day
September 8, Stage 12: Logroсo – Burgos
September 9, Stage 13: Burgos-La Bien Aparecida
September 10, Stage 14: Nestlй-Lagos de Covadonga
September 11, Stage 15: Cangas de Onis-Valgrande Pajares
September 12: Rest Day
September 13, Stage 16: Leon-Valladolid
September 14, Stage 17: El Espinar – La Granja de san Ildefonso
September 15, Stage 18: Avila-Avila
September 16, Stage 19: San Martin -Alcobendas
September 17, Stage 20: Guadalajara-Alcala de Henares TT
September 18, Stage 21: Madrid-Madrid

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