Vuelta a España 2021 route rumours

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Not bad for a modern Vuelta route, no goattrack overkill but still some climbs like Gamoniteiru where Pinot's goat can gain lots of time.
I fear that Gamoniteiru will be a lot like Col de la Loze or the Zoncolan from Sutrio, a hard climb, but also a waiting game until the final few kms.
 
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Don't really understand the praise that I've seen on some forums.

Still an MTF overdose.

Stage to El Baracco the only mountain stage that doesn't end uphill

Seems like a climber friendly (can't really tell for certain from the 3D profile) ITT.

Mountain stages where the MTF is not really connected to any difficult climbs before (special mention to the Gamoniteiru stage here)

Actually it's rather concerning that this passes for one of the better routes now
 
Sep 22, 2020
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I think the routes that benefit most are those which have extremes on both sides. They have the greatest potential to backfire because if someone dominates too much or is on the same level as the others it just becomes a one or two man battle but given the right conditions you can have some great outcomes. Get it wrong and even if you have stages like the Stelvio and Agnello stages of 2020 it can be a rider like Roglic just destroy everyone. But get it right and with some luck you have an epic race. Its why I see the Giro as having the greatest potential. The Vuelta has some quality steep climbs but they are becoming more and more neutralised in recent years, and they don't really have any mammoth passes like the Stelvio. The Tour also suffers with less ability for creative parcours, and becomes very predictable, as well as only really having a rotor between Pyrenees and Alps. The Giro has everything I think that is needed for a great route. Much of the country has terrain where you can build basically any type of stage. It just needs to be used to its potential.
 
Just like the 2007 Tour route only created opportunities for riders like Evans and Leipheimer?

And an amount of ITT km comparable to the 2008 Tour would make it impossible for a climber to win?
Okay, if I rephrase and say "mainly" instead of "only", then it certainly applies. A design with 100+ kms of ITT would massively favourize these kind of riders. If you had for example Bernal and Dumoulin both showing up in peak shape for a GT, how much would Dumoulin gain on Bernal on 110 km ITT compared to 50-60 km?

I don't mind more ITT, but I don't want the massive amount that some desires. And it's certainly not an absolute prerequisite for an entertaining GT.
 
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What some here desire is one ITT of 50 km or more that may be rolling without being too hilly, placed preferably in the second week. I see no demands for 110 km of ITT. Depending on the rest of the route and the nature of the ITTs, a total amount between 60 and 90 km would satisfy most.

But when the position is that ITTs may never legitimately decide the outcome of the race, only mountains, why not skip them completely?

...

This route has 8 km plus 33.7 km of ITT, both hilly. Don't pretend that we scream and moan about routes with 'only' 80 km of ITT, rejecting that anything less than 100 km could possibly produce good racing.

We moan that the longest ITT since the 2015 Giro has been 40.5 km (and quite hilly, thus it saw only small gaps), Profile here, with no route with two medium length ITTs (except the 2017 Giro, depending on where you put the lower limit).
 
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What some here desire is one ITT of 50 km or more that may be rolling without being too hilly, placed preferably in the second week. I see no demands for 110 km of ITT. Depending on the rest of the route and the nature of the ITTs, a total amount between 60 and 90 km would satisfy most.

But when the position is that ITTs may never legitimately decide the outcome of the race, only mountains, why not skip them completely?
Bavarianrider complains about the amout of ITT every freakin time a GT is announced. Without exception. Do you think he would be satisfied with 50 km?

And still, it's not like only 30 or 40 or 50 km of ITT can't produce good racing, and GTs in general would be much better with a signifcant increase in ITT km. In some cases it would probably be better, in others certainly not.

In general I would claim that a lack of variety in hilly/medium mountain/high mountain stages in the GTs is a bigger problem than the lack of more ITT kms.
 
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As mentioned elsewhere, a norm (so not always) of having a longer ITT in GTs would mean that contenders were more used to gaps and used to racing that is not only about hanging on/sprinting at the end of MTFs.

...

Given that no 50 km ITT has been announced since the 2015 Giro (and I'm quite sure he was happy with that one), I wouldn't know if BR would still moan about a route with a long, proper ITT.
 
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Just like the 2007 Tour route only created opportunities for riders like Evans and Leipheimer?

And an amount of ITT km comparable to the 2008 Tour would make it impossible for a climber to win?

The last GT with a long ITT (Giro '15) also really suffered from it, right?
When is the last time the best TTer in a GT got dropped by minutes in the mountains without having to take a *** or missing a freak attack?

In theory the Giro might get away with a 100km+ amount if they go crazy in the mountain stages and they don't get canceled. Last time that happened is a long time ago as well.

2016 Vuelta and 2015 Giro were more of a product of a riders teams failing them than perfect amount of ITT.
 
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When is the last time the best TTer in a GT got dropped by minutes in the mountains without having to take a *** or missing a freak attack?
Just about every Giro: Almeida on Stelvio and to a lesser extent Sestriere in 2020, Roglic on San Carlo and Mortirolo in 2019, Dumoulin on Finestre in 2018 and on Piancavallo itself in 2017. 2016 had very little time gaps on the TTs between the main contenders except for Chaves so it's not applicable, then before that Contador on Finestre in 2015. That makes Uran the last strongest TT rider to not get dropped normally - but he was weak on the Val Martello stage even without the Quintana controversy and lost a lot on the MTT.

Then for the Tour, we have Alaphilippe on the Iseran in 2019 and Froome on Alpe d'Huez in 2015 in the same period. While the Vuelta has Roglic on Peña Negra in 2019 (though one could argue that doesn't count because he had the GC sewn up anyway), no dominant TT rider in 2018 or 2014, Froome on Machucos in 2017 and Dumoulin in Morcuera in 2015.

So more often than not if we're using a cutoff of over a minute on one stage, and a fair few of these sit at 2 or 3.
 
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I have mixed feelings about this years route. I will admit I am almost never fully satisfied yet I don't consider myself the most pessimistic person either. I was afterall very satisfied with the TDF-route (of course measured by Tour-standards).

First week:
Overall I don't have too many complaints about the first week. Stage 1 (ITT) could have been a bit longer but otherwise fine. The first early test is already on Stage 3. Not alone is this one of the few stages with a proper length (203 km) but it also finished on top of Picon Blanco which is a fine first ascent in a Grand Tour. 8,5 km with an average gradient of 9,1% is definitely going to create more gaps than for an instance Etna from the Giro or ? (I don't know - some non-existent early mountain from TDF). I consider Stage 2, 4 and 5 as quite boring but some would argue that the first week is the best place to have a sequence of stages for the fast men. Stage 4 could favor a punchy-type sprinter but judged from the profile alone it is difficult to say for sure. If Stage 4 can be considered to be a prologue to our first murito, Stage 6 will be something even more like a murito. 1,5 km isn't much and I don't really see any significant gaps but Roglic may want an early stage victory.

Stage 7 is the first mountain stage with multiple mountains. I am not over the moon about this one though. At best I believe it can be compared to a medium mountain stage from the Giro or although a bit harsh Massif Central from the TDF. It does have an interesting finale but most of the day is below 1000m. Stage 8 is utterly disappointing for a weekend stage. Clearly the sprinters must enjoy it and the rest of us can only hope the wind will play a large role on this one. Otherwise maybe I should find something else to do this Saturday :(
The first week will finish with what I would call the first proper mountain stage with multiple mountains. It even has a proper length for a mountain stage (187,8 km). At the end of the day everything is to be decided on the last climb Alto Velafique. I believe the first week has variation but it could have been even better. I am never going to be a fan of flat stages but at least 2 out of 4 has the possibility of strong wind gusts. I only see two challenges for significant gaps but for a first week that is doable (would have preferred three).

Second week:
Honestly I don't like this second week. The weekend (stage 14 and 15) looks okay, but the first four stages seems disappointing. For break-away specialists it should be fine though. Stage 10's finish with a 15 km descent after a category 2 mountain should scare of the sprinters. Stage 12 looks a bit similar although Fernando Escartin says on paper this one is for the sprinters. The stage profile might fool me if Escartin is right. Stage 13 looks very boring but at the same time the only stage for sprinters in this second week. Stage 11 is better than 10 and 12. If placed later in the race, I could see possibilities for sneak attacks but considering we a mid-race, I don't feel like getting my hopes up. Furthermore stage 11 is ridiculous short (131,6 km) and I can't quite figure out why. All-in all I see break-away riders tuning in on at least three of these four stages and if we are lucky maybe some skirmishing between the GC-men.

Stage 14 is certainly the second weeks queen stage but that might actually be a bit of criticism. We are talking about two mountains on a 159,7 km route. There aren't even possibilities for a long range attack which is why this stage doesn't fully satisfy me either. I am looking forward to the finale of Pico Villuercas though. Stage 15 is a medium mountain stage with a deceiving profile. Last real challenge tops with 40 km to go and that last category 3 mountain near the end won't do siginificant damage. If everything goes wrong it could even be a day where the favorites just roll in together without any real action except for a clear break-away win. At least they did not put in a flat stage on the penultimate weekend but I would say that the second week looks rather weak which is atypical for the Vuelta. The only stage I am looking forward to is stage 14 and the last hour is probably enough.

Third week:
Stage 16 and 19 will be one for the sprinters and one for the break-away specialists. In addition they serve as natural "breaks" for the GC-men. I don't know if they are necessary though. Stage 15 from second week was not that hard and they have a rest day before the stage 16 sprint. Therefore a poorly placed stage 16. Stage 19 makes more sense although I would have preferred it switched with Stage 20.

Stage 17 and 18 are obviously the highlight of this years Vuelta. Although I am a bit tired of seeing Lagos de Covadonga (The Alpe d'Huez of the Vuelta) it is a fine climb and it guarantees action. Both stage 17 and 18 has three serious climbs in them but neither can be called a "tappone". This years Vuelta will have no monstrous mountain stage but it will have to do. Stage 17 is 181,6 km (proper length) and the overall design does look nice. I do doubt that anyone will try a long range attack. If not only because of the profile and fear of Covadonga, then for what await the day after on Stage 18. Gamonteiru has been a wet dream for a lot of cyclingfans and finally it is here. Its presence alone makes this years Vuelta-route better than the TDF-route. No words can explain how much I am looking forward to see this stage. three serious climbs and a fourth climb (category 2) right before the final ascent. It is all packed within 159,2 km and since this is the last mountain stage of this years Vuelta it could create havoc if an ambitious rider needs several minutes. I do believe Gamonteiru will scare off any long range attacks but exactly because it is the GC-mens final chance before the final ITT, I could see something surprising happen (maybe I am too optimistic). I guess I am just so over the moon excited about Gamonteiru that I can't really see anything but a spectacle ;)

Stage 20 has a nice stage design for a stage so late in the race. It will be difficult to gain serious time but perhaps if a few riders fear the last ITT this could become entertaining even for the GC-men. I do see it more as one for a break-away though with most (if not all) GC-men recharging batteries for the final showdown, that is the 33,7 km long ITT in Santiago de Compostella. I find the third week in general reasonable. It could be better but there are also good points above all the two mountain stages and the final ITT. I do also like stage 20 and stage 19 makes sense in terms of "resting".


Positives:
  • 5 good MTF's
  • Final ITT to replace sprint borefest in Madrid
  • Not overloaded with muritos
  • Gamonteiru
Negatives:
  • No mountain stage with clear cut opportunities for long range attacks
  • No proper mountain stage with descent finish
  • Total length of time trialing not enough
  • 6 stages with sprint finishes
  • Many medium mountain stages which seemed to have replaced proper high mountain stages
 
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Roglic was the best ITT rider in the 2019 Giro

Almeida was the best ITT rider from people riding for GC in the 2020 Giro

Both were over 2 minutes behind the winner
Just about every Giro: Almeida on Stelvio and to a lesser extent Sestriere in 2020, Roglic on San Carlo and Mortirolo in 2019, Dumoulin on Finestre in 2018 and on Piancavallo itself in 2017. 2016 had very little time gaps on the TTs between the main contenders except for Chaves so it's not applicable, then before that Contador on Finestre in 2015. That makes Uran the last strongest TT rider to not get dropped normally - but he was weak on the Val Martello stage even without the Quintana controversy and lost a lot on the MTT.

Then for the Tour, we have Alaphilippe on the Iseran in 2019 and Froome on Alpe d'Huez in 2015 in the same period. While the Vuelta has Roglic on Peña Negra in 2019 (though one could argue that doesn't count because he had the GC sewn up anyway), no dominant TT rider in 2018 or 2014, Froome on Machucos in 2017 and Dumoulin in Morcuera in 2015.

So more often than not if we're using a cutoff of over a minute on one stage, and a fair few of these sit at 2 or 3.
Roglic got sick in the 2019 Giro, and the queen stage was nerfed.

Almeida got destroyed by domestiques, and one of the queen stages was completely nerfed, as well as having the benefit of being an early starter in the prologue.

Both the Giros had over ~60km of ITTs anyway.

For 2018, Dumoulin only gained a grand total of 13s in the main ITT.

2017 Giro was an absolute freak of a GT. Main time loss was due to taking a ***.
 
If you're going to make an excuse why your argument is still correct for every time it doesn't apply, I might as well point out that for most of the GTs where the strongest time trialist wasn't dropped heavily in the mountains, there outright wasn't a stronger climber in the race meaning that the amount of time trialing was largely irrelevant anyway.

Also quite disingenuous to point out that Dumoulin only took 13 seconds in the main TT without taking into account that he gained over triple that amount on the other TT, but whatever fits your narrative.

You're also first claiming that time-trialists rarely lose big time on mountain stages, then argue that Almeida was lucky to be close because the weather caused him to gain more in the time-trials and lose less in the mountains, yet he still came nowhere near the pink jersey in the end. That doesn't add up.

Generally I think the Giro could do with a bit more time-trialing than we've often had in recent years to match the big mountain stages, at least in years with truly mountainous routes. '2019 had over 60 km' is a moot point given that two of the three TTs, including the main one, ended on a proper climb and the third wasn't flat either. The Tour and Vuelta are usually balanced (exceptions including the 2012 Tour on the one hand and the 2015 Tour on the other) but that's only because they've stopped putting actual queen stages, few people would say that a race like the 2017 Tour presents a strong argument for keeping TT distance low just because the GC was closer than usual...
 
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If race design induced the isolation of key leaders more often I think it would lead to more exciting racing in general.
Agreed, but one of the biggest problems there is that since UCI tightened up the rules on ProContis to prevent teams like Cervélo and BMC coming in at that level with a roster that was clearly WT level so they could get all the invites they wanted without the obligations they didn't (flyaway races like Guangxi etc.), the weakening of some of the major national calendars for stage racers, and the end of the quarantine for dopers at the ProConti level, we're finding decent level wildcards harder and harder to come by, and riders who would previously have led wildcard teams or been free hands at the race are now happier to join the WT teams and be domestiques, so meaning the isolation of those leaders is much harder than it was 10-12 years ago.
 
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The climb named Collado de los Ballesteros in the stage to Pico Villuercas is actually the North side of Villuercas. 400m of climbing in 3km. This is longer and just slightly easier gradient than Muro di Sormano. The road surface, though...



Is this good enough for a long range attack?
 
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I have big problems to understand why they do not finish stage stage 14 in Guadalupe after 110 km. One would have this killer wall and then a fast 12 km descent to the finish. It would offer a little variation and would probably lead to half an hour of spectacular racing.
 
The climb named Collado de los Ballesteros in the stage to Pico Villuercas is actually the North side of Villuercas. 400m of climbing in 3km. This is longer and just slightly easier gradient than Muro di Sormano. The road surface, though...



Is this good enough for a long range attack?
I don't know if this was addressed to me since I wrote "there aren't even possibilities for a long range attack"

Of course in theory it could happen but I don't believe it. 60 km from the finish is a long way out and its 45 km with some small bumps. I hope I am proved wrong! Believe me! All I want to see is entertaining race.
 
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I grew up not far from Cullera, where the 6th stage finishes. I must have been around 12 years old when I went up the hill with a friend and he stole my Tamagotchi. He swore he didn't and that I must have lost it. He didn't have it on him, but I know he stole it and hid it somewhere. Maybe it's still there.

Anyway, that sucked. As does this route.
Guys.

I've found my new favorite forum meme.
 
Anyway, this route is above-average for what we've been accustomed to.

Negative:

  • Not enough TT kms. Don't like the ITT as last stage. It invites waiting games.
  • Many stages are, of course, in the wrong order.
  • Stage to Picón Blanco is a crime against humanity. So many wasted chances.
  • Not enough descent finishes, though the Almachar (5kms at 9% 17km from finish) and Cordoba stage could be interesting if riders are in the mood.

Positive:
  • A couple of nice hilly stages (7 to B. de Alicante, stage 15, stage 20). I like the idea of a hilly stage as the last road stage.
  • Gamoniteiro might be a MTF, but it's unquestionably a behemoth. One of the top 10 hardest climbs ever climbed in Europe. Perhaps more importantly, the stage has San Lorenzo+Cobertoria+Cordal beforehand.
  • Stage 9 to Velefique goes through Collado de Venta Luisa. Velefique should be 1st Cat and Venta Luisa ESP. It's a great, endless mountain pass, links pretty well to the last two climbs. Glad they're revisiting that area. Stage comes also before a rest day.
 

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