Thrilling Spanish cycling is fast approaching, with the world’s elite set to pits their wits against each other in the Vuelta Espana. The UCI World Tour event will provide a spectacular follow up to the Tour de France; and will run from Saturday 23rd August to Sunday 14th September.
Amongst those will be Chris Froome, with UK fans eager to cheer him on following his disappointing exit Le Tour last month. The Team Sky rider will be looking to put memories of that fifth stage withdrawal behind him and return to the sort of form that saw him emerge victorious from the 2013 Tour de France.
Strong Team Sky Line Team for Vuelta Espana
Froome fronts a strong lineup from Team Sky; and has said of the race that it is ‘exactly the sort of challenge’ that he needs. He has also recently stated that ‘you can’t dwell on disappointment, you have to move on quickly and the Vuelta Espana is the perfect race to focus on.’
Team Sky’s principal Sir Dave Brailsford told the Guardian that he is confident of his team performing well: ‘This year’s Vuelta is a great opportunity for us to get back to grand tour racing and I’m delighted that we’ll go there with a strong team.’
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‘It’s Great to Have Him Back’
Brailford went on to say: ‘Chris Froome will be our team leader and it’s great to have him back on the bike and focused on the challenge ahead. He was obviously very disappointed after having to withdraw from the Tour de France but has recovered and trained well since the injury.’
It was initially hoped that fellow Brit and Omega-Pharma Quick Step rider Mark Cavendish would recover in time for La Vuelta Espana but he will not make the event. Cavendish dislocated his shoulder and subsequently withdrew from this year’s Tour de France; after crashing during the sprint finish of the first stage. He will instead ride in the Tour du Poitou Charentes.
Alberto Contador to Return
Another heavyweight of the peloton will return however, with Alberto Contador fit to race again following his own Tour de France withdrawal. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider had initially ruled himself out of his home Grand Tour; but the two-time Vuelta winner posted a video last Thursday to complete a remarkable turnaround.
He said in the video: ‘I’ve been riding the bicycle for the last 10 days and yesterday was the first day I could climb a mountain pass without knee pain. That excites me, motivates me and has led me to make the decision to run the Tour of Spain.’
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No Place for Sir Bradley Wiggins
Contador went on to say: ‘I know it’s a Tour of Spain I’ll have to do in a very different way than I had thought earlier in the season, or as I planned the Tour de France, but I think it can be very good considering the end of the season and to start next year with guarantees.’
Sir Bradley Wiggins will not be at La Vuelta; and will instead be part of the Tour of Britain which overlaps with the last week of the highlight of the Spanish calendar. Team Sky will hope that for now at least this can help to reduce tension between Wiggins and Froome, which has threatened to boil over in the past.
La Vuelta Espana will comprise of 21 stages and cover an overall distance of 3239 kilometres. There will be plenty of dramatic variety on offer, with 5 flat stages, 13 hill/mountain stages, 1 team time trial stage and 2 individual time trial stages across the duration. The full stage breakdown can be found below:
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2014 Vuelta Espana Cycling Full Stage Breakdown
Distance: 12.6 km Class: Team Time Trial
Stage 2 – Sunday 24th August – Algeciras > San Fernando
Distance: 174.4 km Class: Flat
Stage 3 – Monday 25th August – Cádiz > Arcos de la Frontera
Distance: 197.8 km Class: Hill
Stage 4 – Tuesday 26th August – Mairena del Alcor > Córdoba
Distance: 164.7 km Class: Hill
Stage 5 – Wednesday 27th August – Priego de Córdoba > Ronda
Distance: 180 km Class: Flat
Stage 6 – Thursday 28th August – Benalmádena > La Zubia
Distance: 167.1 km Class: Mountain
Stage 7 – Friday 29th August – Alhendín > Alcaudete
Distance: 169 km Class: Hill
Stage 8 – Saturday 30th August – Baeza > Albacete
Distance: 207 km Class: Flat
Stage 9 – Sunday 31st August – Carboneras de Guadazaón > Aramón Valdelinares
Distance: 185 km Class: Mountain
Rest Day – Monday 1st September
Stage 10 – Tuesday 2nd September – Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela > Borja
Distance: 36.7 km Class: Time Trial
Stage 11 – Wednesday 3rd September – Pamplona > Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar
Distance: 153.4 km Class: Mountain
Stage 12 – Thursday 4th September – Logroño > Logroño
Distance: 166.4 km Class: Flat
Stage 13 – Friday 5th September – Belorado > Obregón. Parque de Cabárceno
Distance: 188.7 km Class: Hill
Stage 14 – Saturday 6th September – Santander > La Camperona. Valle de Sabero
Distance: 200.8 km Class: Mountain
Stage 15 – Sunday 7th September – Oviedo > Lagos de Covadonga
Distance: 152.2 km Class: Mountain
Stage 16 – Monday 8th September – San Martín del Rey Aurelio > La Farrapona. Lagos de Somiedo
Distance: 160.5 km Class: Mountain
Rest Day – Tuesday 9th September
Stage 17 – Wednesday 10th September – Ortigueira > A Coruña
Distance: 190.7 kmClass: Flat
Stage 18 – Thursday 11th September – A Estrada > Monte Castrove. Meis
Distance: 157 km Class: Mountain
Stage 19 – Friday 12th September – Salvaterra do Miño > Cangas do Morrazo
Distance: 180.5 km Class: Hill
Stage 20 – Saturday 13th September – Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil > Puerto de Ancares Distance: 185.7 km Class: Mountain
Stage 21 – Sunday 14th September – Santiago de Compostela > Santiago de Compostela. El Final del Camino