Is it just me or does nobody care too much for the Vuelta? I wonder if this is personal bias. I live in France but near the Italian border, Spain feels like it’s a long way away and my grasp of Spanish isn’t too hot.
Yet maybe it’s not just me, the media interest before the race certainly seems quieter. On cyclingnews.com a pre-race preview of the Vuelta is competing for attention alongside a visit to a team’s warehouse. A grand tour vs. a large shed.
Is this race fatigue from a long season that began in Australia? I’m not so sure. I think the Vuelta is a great race with a proud tradition but it struggles to attract the best riders. I’m also struggling with the contenders for the race. No Contador, no Evans, and Andy Schleck’s supposed to be playing domestique to his brother. The biggest name is probably Menchov and he’s infamous for his anonymous style.
The race also lacks history, us non-Spaniards don’t have the equivalent myths to Coppi, the Tourmalet or symbolic moments like Alpe d’Huez. Yes the road up to the Lagos de Covadonga is hard, and the Angliru is insane but can you name five riders who have won at Covadonga?
Wait until it gets underway
Nevertheless, it will be exciting once it gets underway. The lack of big names should mean an open race where many riders will have their chance, this is partly what made the Giro so good this year. Certainly no team looks set to crush the race.
Also the race tends to pick up as it goes along, if there is nothing particular to look forward to yet, a soap opera story with multiple plots will gather pace.
One thing to look for is the influence of ASO. Already the race website has the same template as ASO’s other events and it seems some experimentation is going on, notably the late night team time trial as the opener.
All told, if the race seems firmly planted as the third grand tour, it’s still a big test and promises some exciting racing.