2014 Vuelta a Espana Preview and Predictions
In recent years, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana have gained reputations for being about as competitive as the Tour de France.
In recent years, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana have gained reputations for being about as competitive as the Tour de France. The Vuelta, with its combination of high mountain stages and intense racing, has persuaded some that it can be at least the equal of La Grande Boucle. The 2014 Vuelta a Espana might be a comedown for some, with this year’s race having eight mountain stages as opposed to 12 last year. The race, however, will be 3,239.9 km long, and will include two individual time trials, a team time trial, five hill stages, and five flat stages. The winner will be a tough, complete rider.
The race will begin with a 12.6-km team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera. Stages 2 through 5 will combine flat and hill stages, with Stage 6 being the race’s first mountain stage. Stages 6 through 9 will be a combination of hilly and mountain stages, with the race’s first rest day following Stage 9.
The Vuelta’s second week will begin with the race’s first individual time trial, a 36.7-km affair from Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela to Borja. Four of the following six stages will be mountainous, with an additional one being hilly. Only one flat stage will give the sprinters a chance to shine during the second week, which will end after Stage 15 on Monday, September 8. The second rest day will follow this stage.
The Vuelta’s final five days will be hotly contested. Stage 17 will be flat, but Stages 18 and 20 will be mountainous, and Stage 19 will be hilly. The race’s final two mountain stages will be decisive in the event of a close race. Stage 21, a 9.7-km time trial in Santiago de Compostela, the end of the pilgrimage known as the Way of St. James, will conclude the 2014 Vuelta. The time trial will probably be too short to be decisive, but the riders will not be able to relax until they have crossed the finish line.
Since the Vuelta was moved from April to September in 1995, it has become a chance for redemption for riders whose seasons have been disappointing. It has also become a tuneup race for the world championships, which often start a week after the Vuelta ends. Consequently, the race has drawn strong fields. This year’s field might be the strongest in the nearly 20 years since the Vuelta changed its place on the racing calendar. Chris Froome (Sky) and two-time Vuelta champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), both of whom crashed out of the Tour de France, will ride the race, as will Giro d’Italia champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), the latter of whom has had a crash-marred season. Defending champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) was hit by a car and badly injured in April 2014 but finished 17 th in the Tour and second in the Tour of Utah. Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky (both from Garmin-Sharp) abandoned the Giro and the Tour, respectively, and want to redeem themselves.
Who will win