Vuelta Stage 1 Preview

A team time trial in Jerez, the city of Sherry. A short and fast course will limit the team gaps but who will spray the cava tonight?

The Route: a team time trial but unlike last year it’s short and semi-urban. Some races toy the y-axis to make the elevation look bigger but the above graphic seems to the the opposite listing. Graphic design aside, it’s flat. The roads are wide in most places. There are sharp corners and mucho roundabouts. These are the real technical challenge with teams needing to perfect entry and exit both in terms of speed and formation. Think of a team pursuit event featuring chicanes along the way and you’ll soon get the picture. Because of the intensity and speed a dropped rider has little hope of getting back to the team and the effort required will likely ruin them too. Obviously a well-drilled squad is essential but here more than ever because the short and sharp effort means a team can’t hide weak riders in the draft of larger rouleurs, everyone has to pull together.

Note the following days have time bonuses so there’s only a bonus in winning the opening stage and none of the negatives such as having to lead the race for the whole opening week, a sprinter is likely to get the jersey soon.

The Contenders
Trek Factory Racing seem to have a squad built for today with Fabian Cancellara, Bob Jungels, Jesse Sergent and Kristoff Vanderwalle – who just won the TT stage of the Tour of Poland – as the main engines.

BMC Racing have a strong team and are boosted by the arrival of Rohan Dennis who brings speed and skill to the team. There are several strong riders. Even the non-TT specialists look good, for instance Manuel Quinziato is in great shape after placing well in the Eneco Tour.

Next I’d place Orica-Greenedge. The team’s almost an offspring of the Australian track programme and several riders have a team pursuit background. What they lack is a star factor, there’s no Durbridge or Hepburn to lift them. They won in the Giro but with a stronger squad.

OPQS are a good choice although Tony Martin is like bait, you see his name and automatically rate the team. They might be the reigning world champions in the discipline but Martin was the only one starting today who rode for the winning team last year in Florence.

As you’d expect Team Sky have a strong team but they might prefer the route to be longer in order to get into their stride. Think Movistar and you might not think of team time trial success but in Adriano Malori and Jonathan Castroviejo they have plenty of power and the rest of the squad is good too. Belkin could be close too. Astana won last year but had a stronger squad with more rouleurs and GC specialists. The course is short so expect small winning margins.

Trek Factory Racing
BMC Racing, Team Sky
OPQS, Orica-Greenedge, Movistar
Belkin, Garmin-Sharp, Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo

Weather: warm and sunny with temperatures of 30°C in the evening. A light breeze is expected, it won’t cause trouble but should fan out the riders at a slight angle.

TV: unlike all the other stages this is an evening start and finish and so the timing is different. Here are the start times, European time:

19:04 MTN-Qhubeka
19:08 Cofidis
19:12 Team Europar
19:16 Team Giant-Shimano
19:20 AG2R La Mondiale
19:24 Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
19:28 IAM Cycling
19:32 Orica-GreenEdge
19:36 Cannondale Pro Cycling
19:44 Lampre-Merida
19:48 BMC Racing Team
19:52 Trek Factory Racing
19:56 Belkin Pro Cycling Team
20:00 Garmin-Sharp
20:04 Lotto-Belisol
20:08 Astana Pro Team
20:12 Team Katusha
20:16 Team Sky
20:20 Omega Pharma-Quick Step
20:24 Tinkoff-Saxo
20:28 Movistar Team

Daily Díaz: When you are speaking Spanish and you really want something to happen, ojalá is probably the word you will be using. Its origin is the Arab expression law šá lláh or Insha’Allah (“if God wishes so”), and it always appears at the beginning of the sentence: ojalá gane el más fuerte could translate as “I wish the strongest rider wins”. You will notice this expression is commonly used when things don’t depend on yourself, but on others, or nature (ojalá haga buen tiempo, “I wish the weather is nice”), or luck, or even God. My wish for this Vuelta? Ojalá el ganador esté limpio (“I wish the winner is clean”). What about yours?

Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel

12 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 1 Preview”

  1. I’ve never attempted Spanish, but here is mine: ¡Ojalá Cadel y Purito hacen bien! (I hope Cadel and Purito do well)

    If this really is Cadel’s last grand tour then I’ll be happy if it at least goes well for him (it’ll be the first time I’m seeing him ride live, so this is partially a selfish request). Rodriguez plain well deserves a good Vuelta after the crap year he’s had.

  2. Ojala the African squad of MTN lights up the field! Its about time that the overly-monochromatic sport of pro cycling included coverage of African stars too.

  3. Ojalá Urán and his OPQS mates win this one. That team is not just Tony Martin. Witness their TTT win in Tirreno-Adriatico and 2nd place at the one in the Giro. Both of those squads featured Urán and Poels, both of whom do typically excellent work on TTTs

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