By David Hunter
The peloton continues their stay in the north of Spain with the 43rd Vuelta a Burgos. This is a race that usually had a weak start list, but after enjoying themselves last year the big world tour teams have decided to come back. The race will be used as vital preparation for those about to do the Vuelta, it gives crucial racing in the legs for many who haven’t done much since the Giro. The route is like previous years, but with a little twist.
The traditional start of the race with the finish up at Burgos Castle. We have a lap circuit which features some wide-open roads, it doesn’t take much wind to cause echelons in this part of the world. The winner of the stage needs a fast kick, it could be a sprinter or a puncheur.
The first of two sprint finishes, but we don’t have many fast men at the race. This is a great opportunity for riders like Jordi Meeus, Alberto Dainese and Marc Sarreau to net an important win.
Get ready for a plot twist! We have the climb of Picon Blanco, but the riders now must descend to the finishing line. Maybe the organisers decided to change things up a little as we finish at the top of the climb in stage 3 of the Vuelta. The 17km descent will give some a chance to re-join the front group if they’ve been dropped on the climb.
Should be another sprint but the roads are very exposed, and teams will be nervous about possible echelons.
The traditional final stage to Lagunas de Neila. The Vuelta starts just one week after this stage, a great chance for some to land a psychological blow.
Ineos – they arrive with a ridiculously strong squad for a race of this standard. Bernal and Adam Yates will be co-leaders, with Martínez, Sivakov and Narváez as support. Bernal looked good in San Sebastian, his first race back after the Giro. Yates wasn’t quite as good on Saturday, but that was probably due to his exploits in Japan. Ineos have dominated stage racing this season, I’d be amazed if they didn’t win this one too.
Aleksandr Vlasov – the Russian has enjoyed a consistent season, 4th at the Giro was a significant result for him. He wasn’t at his best in Tokyo, but he’ll be much better in this race. He normally copes well with steep gradients, both mountain stages suit him well. Astana have been good in recent races, they’ll be hoping Vlasov can finish on the overall podium.
Bahrain – they arrive with an strong team for a race of this standard, but we’ll have to see how they ride in the big stages. With Landa, Caruso and Padun they have three riders who could finish in the top 10. Landa is lacking racing, it’s unlikely he’ll have the form to win the title. Caruso’s second place at the Giro was an exceptional result, he’ll be confident of riding well here. Then we have Padun, the mythical climber. With such a strong team, Bahrain really should be challenging for the win.
Hugh Carthy – this is his first race since the Giro, which means he’ll be lacking a little compared to some of his rivals. 8th in Italy was a good result but riding in Spain seems to suit him better. This is an important part of his Vuelta preparations, a good result would set him up nicely for another crack at the red jersey.
Simon Yates – the signs are there for all to see, Yates needs a break, I’m surprised to see him at this race. He’s done the Giro, 2 weeks of the Tour, crashed hard, flew to Tokyo, rode the road race, flew back and then raced San Sebastian. The team seems to be squeezing the lemon, but it’s all dry.
Ineos have been dominant in stage races this year and I expect this to continue. The win will go to Egan Bernal.
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