Tuesday 14th - Saturday 18th January 2014
Firstly, here's the livestream! It seems to start half an hour before each stage at least, so today we saw the sign-on, and the lining up - and then it seems to be cameras at key points in the race and radio updates, rather than the full race - so I'm following it with the help of the race hashtag. Really, though, relative to a lot of European races, it looks great! Here are the times of the stages, which should be times of the streams:
- Stage 1, 15:15-17:00 (UK 6:15-8pm, CET 19:15-21:00, USA EST 1:15-3pm USA EST)
- Stage 2, 14:27-16:00 (UK 5:27-7pm, CET 18:27-20:00, USA EST 12:27-2pm)
- Stage 3, 16:20-18:00 (UK 7:20-9pm, CET 20:20-22:00, USA EST 2:20-4pm)
- Stage 4: 16:14-18:00 (UK 7:14-9pm, CET 20:14-22:00, USA EST 2:14-4pm)
- Stage 5: 14:56-17:00 (UK 5:56-8pm, CET 18:56-21:00, USA EST 12:56-3pm)
This is the first time the women's race has ever run, and from the website, it looks like they're pulling out all the stops to help us watch around the world, with a twitter, hashtag #TourFemeninoSanLuis, YouTube, llive timings, radio, photos and news on facebook. This really looks gold standard for (non-Italian, non-Dutch) women's races, but what's the course like?
I recommend you have a look at the proper race previews, in English on VeloFocus, and in Spanish on El Pelotón, because they're always excellent,and Velofocus has, as always, mapped the height profiles in. The race is relatively flat, with the longest stage, stage 5, only 78km long, but it's all at altitude, so that will definitely make a difference to the racing.
Stage 1 is 63km, and pretty much flat. Stage 2 is the shortest road stage, 56.2km, starting with a 4km climb at av. 5.8% before flattening out and ending with about 10km of relatively gentle climb to the finish-line. Stage 3 is 60.2km of flat again, so if there's not been much change in the GC by then, the Stage 4 ITT, 10.6 flat kilometres, will shake that up. Then that final stage is a city centre "crit-like" stage in San Luis to finish it off.
The teams racing are mostly local Argentinian teams, with national teams from Brazil, Colombia and Cuba - and only one UCI-registered team, the brand-new women's United Healthcare team - bringing, according the Cycling Fever startlist, 2013 Giro Rosa winner Mara Abbott, USA timetrial powerhouse (heh) Alison Powers (see what I did there?), Alexis Ryan, Sharon Laws and British Crit star Hannah Barnes. You'd expect them, as the only pro team, to crush the opposition, but will they have everything their own way? Brazilian star Clemilda Fernandes, who'll race in 2014 for Bizkaia-Durango, and her sister Janildes will definitely be riders to watch out for, and there are some very strong Cuban riders for these distances.
We'll follow the race in the comments, so anything you see, please do add it in.