La Vuelta a España 11 commenced on Saturday August 20 in blistering Spanish heat. Spain’s cycling tour, which features the best cyclists in the world competing through varied conditions and skill tests, will continue over the next three weeks.
The 66th La Vuelta is hosted by Benidorm for the third time in the competition’s history, with the team time trials as the 13.5km opening stage. The cyclists must trek over 21 stages with their biggest challenge being the first mountain test on stage four – between Baza and Sierra Nevada in which 170.2 km will be completed.
The big test will come at stage eight where the first uphill challenge will commence. Those cyclists competing with personal development as their main goal will be looking ahead to the tenth day in Salamanca where the individual time trials will commence.
Amongst favourites to win is the defending champion, Vincenzo Nibali, who is representing Liquigas-Cannondale and Italy and has been on the podium for three grand tours – but didn’t compete in the Tour De France this year – which Britain’s Mark Cavendish won as well as last year’s green jersey at La Vuelta.
Day One – Team Time Trials
Jakob Fuglsang took the red jersey after leading Leopard Trek to a winning time of 16 minutes 30 seconds. Though dominating for a slight second at the intermediate check, Liquigas slipped four seconds behind to capture second place. Speaking to ESPN following his victory, Dane Fuglsang said: “I will go for the overall and see how far I can go. I don’t think I can get much higher than I am now but I have a goal in the GC. We have Daniele [Bennati] for the sprints and Fabian [Cancellara] for the time trial.”
With the pain of crashing out of stage seven in the Tour De France behind him, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins began as a favourite in completing La Vuelta as the first British victor. Other British teammates Chris Froome and Ian Stannard were amongst six others to finish a disappointing 20th best time in the opening team time-trials after the team of nine separated in an inconsistent race.
HTC-Highroad have been dubbed the ‘team to beat’ and ranked the number one team in the world by Eurosport. With Cavendish and Tour Down Under champion Matthew Goss part of the team, they finished a promising third in stage one of the competition.
Garmin-Cervélo’s sixth place finish didn’t reflect a team which dominated the Tour de France team time trials who expressed fatigue after the first day.