The La Vuelta a España 2010 presentation was in Sevilla this year (normally Madrid), the start town of next year’s race. Some of the old stars of cycling where in attendance; Thevenet, Olano, Hinault and introducing the show Pedro Delgado.
Hinault pointed out that one of his hardest day on a bike was the stage to Avila in 1983 which he won stage and overall.
So, the Course?
The 2010 Vuelta has quite a few new hills to climb and brings back some old favourites. The first innovation must be the opening stage of a night time team time trial of 16 kilometres in Sevilla on a pan flat course. New climbs include the Cotobello, Bola del Mundo and on 10 to Vilanova I la GeltrÃº there is a steep climb that is being referred to as a “Angliru of Cataluña”.
Returning mountains are Xorret del Cati, Peña Carbarga, Andorra and the normally decisive summit finish of the Lagos de Cavadonga.
1:ª : Sevilla-Sevilla (TTT) : 16,5km.
Flat, fast, hard – and in the dark!
2:ª : Alcalá de GuadaÃra-Marbella : 173km.
Probable sprinter’s stage.
3:ª : Marbella-Málaga : 156km.
3 big climbs, first shake up.
4:ª : Málaga-Valdepeñas de Jaén : 177k.
5:ª : Guadix-Lorca : 194km.
6:ª : Caravaca de la Cruz-Murcia : 144km.
7:ª : Murcia-Orihuela : 170km.
8:ª : Villena-Xorret del CatÃ : 188,8km.
5 climbs and summit finish.
9:ª : Calpe-Alcoy : 187km.
Similar to the stage to Aitana last year, could be THE decisive stage.
06.09 Rest Day.
10:ª : Tarragona-Vilanova i la GeltrÃº : 173,7km.
1 big, steep climb in the middle.
11:ª : Vilanova i la GeltrÃº-Andorra (Vallnord/Pal) : 208km
Andorra, one big, long, steady climb.
12:ª : Andorra la Vella-Lleida : 175km
Probable a sprinters stage. Malcolm Elliot won here 1989.
13:ª : RincÃ³n de Soto-Burgos : 193,7km
14:ª : Burgos-Peña Cabarga : 178,8km
A hard day with 3 climbs and a summit finish.
15:ª : Solares-Lagos de Covadonga : 170km
The Lagos has always been important stage. Flat road and then a 1110 meter climb from sea level.
16:ª : GijÃ³n-Cotobello : 179,3km
Summit finish. Sammy Sanchez knows this climb well “it’s a great climb with great views, wild horses and normally no traffic.”
14.09 Rest Day.
17:ª : Peñafiel-Peñafiel (ITT) : 46km.
Flat TT. Contador didn’t like that a flat TT comes right after two very hilly days and a rest day.
18:ª : Valladolid-Salamanca : 153km
Could be a sprinter’s stage, but there are strong cross wind in this area.
19:ª : Piedrahita-Toledo : 200km
20:ª : San MartÃn de Valdeiglesias-Bola del Mundo : 168,8km
The Bola is the last mountain of La Vuelta, the road surface is concrete, narrow and twisty. It is closed with snow at the moment.
21:ª : San Sebastián de los Reyes-Madrid : 100km
The lap of honour.
Total kilometres: 3.352,6.
La Vuelta 2010; In Depth
Taking a closer look at the route and details, it’s a very hard course with six summit finishes and four other hard climbing days, crossing forty categorised climbs, all this with only 62.5 kilometres against the clock, 46 of them solo, a hard-mans race!
First off has to be the opening team time trial, I hope the street lights in Sevilla are good as the first team is off at 21:00 and the last at 23:00. On stage 10 to Vilanova i la GeltrÃº the climb of the Rat Penat (Bat in English) comes 30 kilometres before the finish. Perico Delgado described it as “el Angliru catalán” it’s not as long at 4.5 kilometers, but it has ramps up to 23%.
The Cottobello summit finish on stage 16 from GijÃ³n comes after a very difficult day with three previous climbs. Olympic champ; Sammy Sánchez lives locally and thinks this “Queen stage” is his stage to show his worth, it is also being named the “Cima Chechu Rubiera” after local hero José Luis Rubiera. The last climb of the Vuelta on stage 20 is the summit finish to the Bola del Mundo, it sits at 2250 meters altitude and it has a concrete road surface, the race could be lost here, so there should be excitement to the very end.
I forgot to mention the leaders jersey which is also new, it’s been yellow, then gold and next year it will be red to celebrate the success of the Spanish national football and basketball teams, also this is the 75th : anniversary of La Vuelta and the 65th edition.
Old Climbs Return
The Lagos de Covadonga have seen some classic battles over the years, 1997 saw a battle royal between eventual winner; Zulle and Tonkov, then the year before between Zulle and Jalabert, but in1987 the little Colombian Herrera took the lead from previous yellow jersey wearers; Dietzen and Sean Kelly.
Xorret del Cati in Alicante is steep and comes at the end of a stage of a saw tooth profile, five climbs and then BANG, the Cati. The road to Andorra is always high, but steady and then the Peña Cabarga summit finish on stage 14 is short and steep, but comes at the end of another hard day.
What The Riders Think
The Galician climber thinks; “it’s as difficult as last year, I like the route as it is for climbers, it’s very attractive to me. There are some new climbs, so it will be less predictable than previous years.”
Tour, Giro and Vuelta winner said; I think its going to be a great Vuelta for the spectators, but tough for the riders. If I ride it I would prefer another time trial. Stage 16 (to Cotobello) will be one of the biggest and also the second last stage (to Bola del Mundo) is going to be tough as the road surfaces are difficult. It has some nice ideas this Vuelta.”
Olympic champion; “it’s a hard Vuelta and a good Vuelta. The climb of the Cotobello is close to my home, it would be special for me to win there. There could be a few opportunities on the descents! It’s a beautiful Vuelta and I will do my best in it.”
Last years winner; “before La Vuelta I will ride the Tour and aim for the podium. I like the Vuelta a lot, it is very good. There are a lot of mountains with several important stages at altitude. There is just one time trial which is good for me; it’s not a time trial for the specialists, but for a strong rider.”
What Do I Think?
Lots of summit finishes and only one boring TT! I’m pleased with the route as there are three stages that are fairly close and stage 9 from Calpe to Alcoy will pass will pass my village, just like last year on the stage to the summit finish on the Aitana. A hard race that will sort out the men from the boys!
I just have to work out which stages I can go too!