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Not a Preview: Vuelta Stage 1

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The Vuelta a Espana opens with a short Team "Time" "Trial" on Saturday. There's been a bit of controversy about the course...which is covered in sand.

So I'll open with this.

And this.

And this.

And most importantly this, a GCN preview of the course.

GCN Vuelta Stage 1

Yes. This is stage one of the third biggest stage race in the world, over music festival tiles, sand, gravel and dirt tracks. A TTT no less. So this is not a preview, it's more a rant. I previewed the course on Tuesday, and called the time trial (after trying to find out stuff about it) a gimmick-free holiday advertisement. It was only really on Wednesday that the news broke that it wasn't such an easy course. The Vuelta organisation apparently swears that the course was approved by a UCI inspector, but it wasn't enough, and the UCI have made some alterations...apparently.

The main alteration is not to the course. Basically, the "Time" has been taken out of the equation. The teams will ride, but it won't count towards the GC. Basically, about five teams will probably go flat out (and probably crash), and the others will toddle around and count themselves lucky.

My main question is, why do we learn of this about two days before the riders roll out? The Vuelta organisers are saying: "I expressed the Vuelta’s position, which is that the individual times should count. But after all the arguments were carried out, the UCI had to make a decision, and now that decision has been taken, we are hoping for a great team time trial." We're also told that the teams "will fight for victory as hard as possible." You'll excuse me if I'm slightly surprised if Cofidis go flat out.

Who'll win, you ask? I'm not going to answer that. The teams that will try are BMC, Orica, both Lottos, Etixx, Movistar, IAM, Trek, MTN and Caja Rural. But it's impossible to say who'll win. A few of them will crash, of course, and a few of them won't. I don't like this course, and I don't like the way it's been managed since it's been found out.

Profile: (which tells you nothing)

Map: (which tells you nothing)

The real previews will start with the road stages.