There are a thousand million articles out there discussing this year's Vuelta route, and they all go like this: it's not the hardest course ever, but it should be wide open to the end. As good a read as any is Jered's take over at Pez. It's not easy to say anything original about it, but I'll give it a whirl. Or maybe this is just a long open thread...
- One thing I enjoy as a Cycloblogger about the Vuelta is that it's the second of two distinct annual opportunities to diss ASO for their repetitive, predictable Tour routes. Yes, I love the Tour for many reasons, and the courses themselves have plenty to recommend them. But the Vuelta, like the Giro, is not afraid to engage the GC riders before stage 13, and in fact has placed the signature climb at stage 4. The Giro had a blistering stage up Montevergine in its fourth stage as well. Is this better? We'll see, but after a while change itself is nice. Otherwise it's just prologue, sprint for ten days, then slowly engage the GC to peak on the second to last day. Rinse, lather, repeat.
- Same subject, different point: Not only is the Lagos de Covadonga stage a visual feast for the fans early on, it drastically changes the race for the riders. Everyone at the Tour speaks of peaking in the third week in France, a subtle way of letting us know that the first two weeks are just an extension of the Dauphine. The Vuelta? You better be in peak form right now, or your race will be over by next Wednesday.
- Sucks to be a time trial ace. With only 70km of flat chrono-time, I guess I can understand why Vlad Karpets isn't Caisse d'Epargne's captain.
I'll add more thoughts later, unless you guys beat me to it.