Vuelta a Burgos offers those heading to the Vuelta Espana a last chance to fine tune their form. The route is a traditional one with two mountain stages, two uphill sprints and one flat sprint. The weather forecast is a good one, with lots of sunshine, but as the roads in this part of the world are exposed to the elements, teams will be keeping one eye on the wind.
The traditional opening stage with the finish up at the castle. It’s a stage that sprinters can win, but it’s also been won by puncheurs and sometimes even climbers. With exposed roads, there’s always a chance of splits before we get to the finish.
The only flat sprint in this year’s race. The small climb in the final 10km will interest a few, it could be used as a perfect launchpad for a late attack.
The first of the GC stages, with the climb of Picon Blanco. This year the organisers have increased the distance from the crest of the climb to the finish, this time it’s 36km to go. This could have a big impact on how selective the stage is, I expect to see a sprint between the GC riders.
The second of the uphill sprints. As the final 2km averages 4.7%, it could be too hard for the pure sprinters.
As usual, the race ends with the climb of Lagunas de Neila. The final 2.7km of the climb averages 10.4% and is well known to most racing and watching. Overall, the climb is 9.4km at 6.8%, but the final 3km is where we’ll see the big action.
Bahrain – they arrive with Landa and Mäder as their main options, both of whom should be challenging for the win. Mäder was on fine form in Romandie, finishing 2nd on GC, but the rest of his season hasn’t gone exactly to plan. Landa took an excellent 3rd place at the Giro, but as this is his first race back, he could be a little short of his best form. Both riders will hope to be in contention as they head towards the final stage, having multiple options in that stage is going to be important.
Bora – they have Hindley, Kelderman and Buchmann. All three of them raced the Giro, Hindley taking home the pink jersey after a stunning performance. Both Buchmann and Kelderman looked good in Getxo, I would expect a strong challenge from the team in this race. Team leadership will likely be decided “on the road”, it’s all to do with who has the best legs in the mountain stages.
Ineos – we saw on Saturday that both Sivakov and Rodríguez are going well just now. Sivakov is a rider with huge potential, but he’s struggled to fulfil it in recent years. On the other hand, Rodríguez has burst onto the scene and has enjoyed a very impressive year. He’s the new Spanish champion and would love to put on a show on home soil, this is exactly the type of race he could win, despite only being 21.
Movistar – I would expect Valverde to be team leader, but they also have Sosa and Pedrero as back up options. Racing on home soil always gets the best out of Valverde, but Sosa does have a great record in Burgos, he’s won the overall title in both 2018 and 2019. Not only that, but he’s won the final stage in 2018, 2019 and 2020, it’s a climb that suits him very well. Movistar have not had a good year; they need some results from their big riders.
EF – they’ve got Carthy, Chaves and Guerreiro in their team, which is nice and strong for this race. I would expect Chaves to be team leader, he was in great form back in June, and the climbs this week suit him well.
João Almeida – crashed in San Sebastian but didn’t seem to be hurt. The UAE man will like the climbs in this race, he was 3rd here in 2020 despite working as a domestique for Remco Evenepoel. Almeida has enjoyed a good year, but as he’s only taken one win, he would like to impress in this race.
Ilan Van Wilder – illness and injury has been the story of his season; it’s been a frustrating spell for the young Belgian. He was meant to ride in Wallonie, but couldn’t due to sickness, hopefully he’s back to full health now. He should be challenging for the top 10 if he stays fit and healthy.
Miguel Ángel López – was rumoured to be part of a drug smuggling operation, suspended by his team, then wasn’t part of it, now his team will let him ride. What a mess! Obviously, it’s not ideal preparation for a race.
Lots of the teams have multiple options, so we could see some tactical battles, especially during stage 3. I’ll take a win for Carlos Rodríguez; he’s really impressed this season.