There are bonus seconds in this race? Still, I don't know if Valverde is the favorite. Movistar has a strong team but it's hard to control two Yates brothers and Bernal at the same time. Mas is also in the race.
Strong line-up in a race with a lot of middle mountains. It remains to be seen who of the big names will ride for the win. For some of them it will just be a preparation race for the Giro or the hilly classics.
Yes, Froomey probably just shows up for a little training in the Volta, a little sightseeing. Maybe doing a little dom work for Bernal. When it gets to the TDF, he'll show up in typical TDF skeleton form. One look and everyone else's face will drop. No Giro in his legs for the TDF, this year.
Stage 1 is really hard. Movistar could shred the peloton and put Valverde up for a sprint if they wanted to do it. The combination of the two mountains and the murito leading up to mountain 2 should be enough to eliminate all the sprinters including Matthews-types. But I except the pace to be very gentle. You don't want to spend too much energy before Vallter 2000 and La Molina.
The pure sprinters definitely wouldn't survive. But it's unlikely that the hardy ones like Gibbons, Matthews and Impey will get dropped unless Movistar decide to go nuts. There is simply too much flat after the Formic pass.
If he is smart, he will collect bonus seconds from the immediate sprints.
In most stages, they don't come very far from the finish line. Add bonus seconds from winning/finishing 2nd or 3rd and he'll have a good chunk of time before Vallter. There is even a bonus sprint just before Vallter 2000.
The guys doing the Giro should be in better form so one of them should win it - Bernal & Sosa (with Dawg doing dom/training stints) should shine and it'll be interesting to see how S Yates does against them.
Stage 3 should give us some idea who's in good shape (unless it becomes a sprint in the last 500m.)
Never been a big fan of this race. The route is usually rather boring, they always use huge highways and in general the most boring looking streets and the racing is usually rather predictable. It's one big mtf with action on the last 5 k, maybe another day with some minor gc action and that's it. Of all the wt one week stage races in spring this is probably my least favorite
Maybe it's because I prefer stage races with ITT's (they usually don't have one here, correct?), but I've never taken much interest in this race. You have P-N and T-A to really kick off the serious one week racing, and then later you have P-V. Catalunya just seems to be the one in-between that doesn't mean as much. From memory it also doesn't seem to be a great indicator for the Giro or the Tour (let me know if I'm wrong though).