Stage One: Pamplona (TTT) 16.5km Terrain: Flat Given the short distance of this circuit, it is clear that organizers don’t want to see too many time gaps between the top sides. The circuit provides some novelty value, as many parts of the route are the same as to the one where the traditional running of the bulls takes place. The course it relatively simple until the teams enter the final few kilometres through Pamplona’s central streets. It is here that the well-drilled teams will look to take advantage of the technically turns and narrow streets that may provide challenges for those less competent teams. Look to see Team Sky and Rabo-Bank stamp their authority in this stage. Stage Two: Pamplona-Viana 181.4KM Terrain: Rolling The opening road race stage provides a rare opportunity for the sprinters, as the race organizers opted against the inclusion of the difficult climb of the Etxauri. A typically rolling stage, there is still one categorized climb, a category 3 on the Alto de la Chapela, giving an opportunity to any who look to state an early claim on the King of the Mountains Jersey. The final 800m could prove to be tricky for some already tired sprinters, as it finishes on a small rising hill in Viana. Stage Three: Faustino V- Eibar (Arrate) 155.3km Terrain: Medium Mountains Unlike the Tour de France, the Vuelta avoids easing the cyclists into the event. This stage see’s the first major trek into the mountains for the cyclists, with three categorized climb leading into the final ascent of the Arrate that rises 410m in just 5km. The big challengers will emerge, but don’t expect to see too many time gaps established. Expect to see Euskaltel aim for the stage win due to their traditional support in the Basque Country. Stage Four: Baracaldo- Estacio de Valdezcaray 160.6km Terrain: High Mountains The first major stage for the riders see’s the race head through the Basque Country, ultimately finishing in the wine-centre of Rioka. Some riders will be familiar with one of the more treacherous climbs on this stage, the climb of Orduna, which is a regular feature on the Tour of the Basque Country. The stage then continues through the vineyards to reach the brutal final climb to the Valdezcaray ski station, in which it is its first feature in the Vuelta since the early ‘90s. Despite the long distance of the climb towards the finish, it may not be enough the split the race wide open, but may see the form of some of the main challengers. Stage 5: Logrono 168km Terrain: Rolling If there was one stage on this tour to get the sprinters excited, it is this one. Although it is not flat by traditional standards, the hills are as straightforward, providing an opportunity for teams to get organized early on. Starting and finishing in Logrono, the circuit just shy of 40km will bring the field through the finishing line three times, leaving no team uncertain of what they are in for, which is basically a long and wide avenue. Due to the ferocity of the following stages, do not expect to see anything other than a bunch sprint to conclude this one. Stage Six: Tarazona-Jaca 175.4km Terrain: Medium Mountains. This stage is relatively simple up until the final 20km up to the two brutal climbs on the Puerto de Oroel and the Alto Fuerte de Rapitan. The Rapitan in particular is more challenging then most category 3 ascents, with the climb lasting 4km at more then 8% gradient, with some sections reaching a brutal 14% towards the summit. It will be interesting to see how the lighter more traditional climbers compete against the powerful endurance climbers. Stage Seven: Huesca-Alcaniz (Motorland Aragon) 164.3km Terrain: Rolling With Aragon being bypassed for the past four years, the Vuelta takes to the region for a second finish on this stage. Unlike the previous stage that gave the sprinters no chance of prevailing, this stage see’s another opportunity to deliver a bunch finish. The finishing straights are very wide and the sprinters will have to judge their final effort very well due to a good chance of wind complications on the open terrain. The post Vuelta Week One Stage Preview appeared first on Green and Gold Cycling. Continue reading.