Preview: 2016 Vuelta a Espana Stages 1-7

Thu 18 Aug 2016

The 71st Vuelta a Espana begins on Saturday, covering 3,315 kilometres over 21 stages. Here is the ORICA-BikeExchange guide to the first seven days of racing action.

Saturday 20th August Stage 1: Ourense, Laias Health Resort to Castrelo de Mino Nautical Park, 29.4km TTT.

The opening stage team time trial follows a flat 29.4kilometre course in the city of Ourense, capital of the scenic Galicia region of northwestern Spain.  A straightforward downtown team time trial with absolutely no undulations and a fast final couple of kilometres to the line.

Sunday 21st August Stage 2: Ourense to Baiona, 159km.

Stage two covers 159 picturesque kilometres over rolling roads to the third category Alto de Fontefria climb before a lumpy run to the finish in Baiona. Probably resulting in the first bunch sprint of the race with the climb coming at the halfway point in the stage.

Monday 22nd August Stage 3: Marin-Dumbria to Mirador de Ezaro, 176.4km.

An early summit finish for this year’s Vuelta as the race revisits the tough climb to Mirador de Ezaro which featured in the 2012 edition. An interesting stage that includes three categroised climbs in the final 60kilometres. The finale is short and very steep and takes in many breathtaking views of the surrounding region, the race could spring to life very early on indeed.

Tuesday 23rd August Stage 4: Betanzos to San Andres Teixido, 163.5km.

The races second hilly stage with three categorised climbs and technical rolling roads that lead to a steady ten kilometre climb to the finish. A tough finale will make for an interesting stage that could favour the climbers or the versatile opportunist.

Wednesday 24th August Stage 5: Viveiro to Lugo 171.3km.

Another day for the sprinters with a relatively flat route that starts on the coast before turning inland for the run south to the finish in Lugo. The category three climb/pass the Puerto de Marco Alvare is the stages only real ascent, 11.8kilometres at a steady 3.6%. The final kilometre drags slightly to the line but it will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint.

Thursday 25th August Stage 6: Montforte de Lemos-Luintra to Ribeira Sacra, 163.2km.

A mid mountain stage that is peppered with short technical climbs and the more challenging category two Alto Alenza. The route traverses the spectacular peaks and valleys around the Sil river with narrow, winding roads that lead to a technical descent to the finish line. The contenders will be on the guard but the stage could be ideal terrain for the breakaway.

Friday 26th August Stage 7: Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria, 158.5km.

The final stage in the Galicia region and another mid mountain stage, three category three climbs cap a technical and undulating route that covers several mountain-passes. An ideal day for the breakaway with the wind likely to play a key role in the outcome of a stage that includes a long and fast descent towards the flat finale.