Yes! That little pre big Vuelta stage race has gotten all big this year so we need to give it a thread of its own!
For those who have missed it, this nice stage race has bulked up its starting list this year, probably due to circumstances beyond its control: first of all A) the Olympic races totally messed with the end of the year calendar. Among other things, the Olympics B) moved the world tour race Tour of Poland from being a direct competitor to Burgos which directly raised the number of world tour teams participating.
Which is great since this is always a nice stage race with a killer last day MTF. The rest of the stages have a fairly easy profile. We just had stage one being one for the sprinters. Stage two is 10.72km TTT, a nice change of pace. Stage three is also for the sprinters, while stage five is for...maybe sprinters though probably some riders with a bit more climby in their legs might try and win it. That leaves the final stage and this:
That's the Lagunas de Neila, the tradition climb of this race. Nice little Vuelta practice hill, don't you think?
So who might win that last climb and probably the GC? (I'm figuring that this climb will decide all though the TTT may put the hurt into a GC rider on a slow team or help out a good but not great climber gain enough of an advantage to stay close enough on this climb to steal the overall win. The biggest name here is Alberto Contador but I;'m guessing that he's in building form mode and may not come out on top. Remember the Vuelta two years ago where he had crashed out of the Tour? That first week back he was kinda ginger in his approach, careful, until he realized that his form was returning. I'm thinking he's in that getting back to peak condition mode here, though as always he will contest the final climb.
If not Bert then who? How about Simon Yates who seems to have come back from his weird doping suspension in the best form of his very young life. I could see him doing what his teammate Esteban Chaves did in this race two years ago: win the sucker.
Going the opposite way, Sammy Sanchez is leading a solid BMC team. He'll definitely be competitive.
Michele Scarponi is back after a layoff since Suisse. We'll see about his form. He sure had nice form in the Giro. Often Burgos attracts a Tour rider who is hoping to capitalize on decent form in that race before he takes a break. This year that is the Pozzowagen himself though he sure didn't show much in the Tour.
Being a Spanish race you'd expect Movistar to be all over Burgos but with Quintana taking a break until the Vuelta and Valverde doing the Olympics along with Ion Izzy and J-Rod, Movistar is bringing their helpers. Perhaps one of Ruben "The Sandwich" Fernandez or Javi "Don't call me Danny" Moreno might step up in this rare opportunity for them. Movistar Jr. (Caja Rural) has its normal contingent of B lass climby guys here. Perhaps English heartthrob Hugh Carty can take the honors? Speaking of English riders that we obsess over, Peter Kennaugh is here along with Seb Henao and Ian Boswell and David Lopez. Seems like they are taking the Movistar approach of throwing a bunch of good climby guys at the mountain and see which one sticks.
David De La Cruz did yeoman's work at the Tour of Wallonie for Etixx last week so he's got some good form. DDD has the ever teasing Igor "Zoncolan" Anton plus Kudus and Fraile.
I could go on and on but since stage 1 has already happened let's get ready for the TTT.