Thursday, December 14, 2006

Viva la Vuelta!

Yes, the 2007 Vuelta route is out--still 3 weeks, so go to hell UCI!--and it's quite interesting. The first week culls the herd bright and early, with limited time for the maillot d'oro contenders to get their legs under them for the 3 mountain summits in the first 10-odd days, including the stage 4 hors category Lagos de Covadonga, a punishing next day of climbing, a 'break' for a 49 km time trial, then stage 9 and 10 hors category climbs. Shifting gears (no pun intended, particularly as it's a lame one), the Vuelta calms down oddly midstream with a batch of sprint and rolling stages, before the last week kicks back into action on stage 19 with 6 categorized climbs and a cat one finish and a second, 25 km time trial on the second to last day. Reaction? Well, with Vino, Kasheckin and Sastre notably absent from the party, not so much from them yet, but preliminary word from Valverde, Pereiro and 2005 runner-up goddammit Denis Menchov is positive, with commentators presuming a predominately defensive team stance in week 3 for whoever didn't drop dead the first week but still enough action to require some actual leadership by the contenders towards the end. But with Valverde, Pereiro, Menchov and Vinokorouv all proclaiming their focus on the Tour de France, which'll take out their superdomestique teammates a bit, and Sastre likely to do so as well with the kickout of Basso from CSC and its future grand tour contenders still needing some time to grow, I'm putting Sammy Sanchez on the podium in Madrid. Either way, we love the Vuelta!

No comments: