Vamos a La Vuelta a España
The Vuelta a España marks the final Grand Tour of the 2021 season, all set to take place between the 14th of August and the 5th of September. Our La Vuelta Guide summarises the relentless 21 day route through Spain, the versatile Israel Start-Up Nation line-up and their chosen equipment.
Images by Noa Arnon
Israel Start-Up Nation will be lining up with a strong, ambitious team, with high hopes of matching or bettering their 2020 success at the Spanish race, where they claimed a stage victory and fourth overall for leader, Dan Martin.
The 2021 Vuelta squad will be led by Sep Vanmarcke, chasing Stage victories. Classics specialist, Vanmarcke has had a promising debut season with the team, with a handful of trips to the podium and several close second places. At the Vuelta, he will be looking to go one better on a number of opportunist, classic style stages across the 21 day race. Vanmarcke will be joined by a team of versatile riders, suited to breakaways and sprint stages.
“Of course, I’m not going for GC — I’m a little bit too big for that but I can always try! No, but I look to find some moments where I can go for a stage. It’s always a dream of every rider to win a stage in a Grand Tour. Next to that I will work for the team, of course, and I hope to get in good work for the Worlds and then Roubaix.” – Sep Vanmarcke.
Much like his teammate, Davide Cimolai came oh so close at this year’s Giro d’Italia, landing on the podium three times, narrowly missing that much sought after Grand Tour victory. Between him and Israeli sprinter, Itamar Einhorn competing in his debut Grand Tour, they’ll be looking for stage success in the flatlands.
Danish National Champion and 2021 Tirreno-Adriático Stage winner, Mads Würtz Schmidt also bolsters the squad, bringing his breakway prowess. Guy Niv, James Piccoli, Alexander Cataford and Sebastian Berwick complete the team.
With their goals targeted solely on stage victories and with no General Classification expecations – the door is wide open for any of the riders to target a Stage or more.
Team Sports Directors Oscar Guerrero and Zak Dempster shared:
“It’s a diverse Vuelta this year with quite a few sprint opportunities and of course the usual collection of tough mountain days. Along with this, there are a number of medium mountain stages that will be really suited to strong breaks. For us, the most important thing is that we are specific on the days that suit our guys. We’re not going in with a GC guy so that opens up so many opportunities for every rider on the team to have their day to really target a stage (or two or three).”
🇨🇦 Alexander Cataford
🇮🇹 Davide Cimolai
🇮🇱 Guy Niv
🇮🇱 Itamar Einhorn
🇨🇦 James Piccoli
🇩🇰 Mads Würtz Schmidt
🇦🇺 Sebastian Berwick
🇧🇪 Sep Vanmarcke
The team will have the full range of Black Inc wheels available to tackle the race’s challenging terrain, including the SIXTY, THIRTY, TWENTY & FORTY FIVE.
La Vuelta Route Highlights
The 2021 Vuelta a España route once again doesn’t disappoint, offering up a highly demanding 21 days of racing over gruelling terrain in typical Vuelta fashion.
The Spanish Grand Tour is well known for its agonisingly steep, sporadic climbs and unpredictability; often an open book in comparison to its French and Italian counterparts.
This year, the race includes a total of 8 flat stages, 4 hilly, 7 mountain and 2 individual time trials, covering 3336km throughout its course. The action gets underway in the North of Spain in Burgos with the first of the Time Trials – 8km through the city, surrounding the spectacular Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos. The first mountain stage will then be faced as early as Stage 3 with a summit finish up the Picon Blanco – No stranger to the peloton as a common feature in the Vuelta a Burgos.
From there, the race travels South, eventually leading to the Eastern Peninsula through Valencia and Alicante with the biggest test of the tour arriving at Stage 7, where a brutal 3,600m of climbing awaits, including the relentlessly challenging final hurdle up the Balcón de Alicante: 4km, averaging over 9.5%.
The opening week will round out further South in Almeria in true Vuelta style, starring the lengthy 21km Alto Collado Venta Luisa and the 12.8km Alto de Velefique, that averages 7.3%. The stage will travel over up-down terrain all day, providing a great opportunity for the OSTRO to excel.
Following a well-deserved rest day, the race will commence in Roquetas de Mar, gradually progressing through the Andalusian region and the provinces of Málaga, Jaén and Córdoba. After several flat – rolling stages, the uphill madness will continue again on Stage 14, where the Puerto Berzocana and the tantaslisingly short, yet steep Alto Collado de Ballesteros will be waiting to blow the race up. The pain and suffering won’t end there, as the 16km Pico Villuercas proceeds, ensuring a pivotal day for the GC contenders that could well make or break the race for many.
Another 4000m day in the saddle follows on Stage 15, travelling via the west of Madrid and including a quartet of challenging ascents; The Alto de la Centenera, Puerto de Pedro Bernardo, Puerto de Mijares and Puerto San Juan de Nava.
After the final rest day, the tour continues to venture back up towards the North of Spain. Stage 16 should mix things up with a rolling Classics style day that could well leave the door wide open for a stage victory to the versatile riders of the peloton.
The last mountain battles lie back-to-back on Stage 17 and 18. Stage 17 includes a selection of four categorised climbs, with multiple ascents of the La Collada Llomena, followed by a summit finish up Lagos de Covadonga in Asturias.
If that’s not enough to really shake things up, Stage 18 will be equally as tough, featuring the final Hors Categorie climb and a first timer for the Vuelta – the Alto del Gamoniteiro. 15km in length and averaging 10%, it’s guaranteed to be a nail-biter.
A final opportunity awaits on Stage 19 for the sprinters to do their thing and the ONE to punch it out for honours in Galicia’s Monforte de Lemos, before entering one last rolling – mountainous penultimate stage in Pontevedra. Likely another opportunity for the puncheurs to go for glory.
Atypical to the Vuelta, the three week race will come to a close in Santiago de Compostela, instead of the traditional Madrid, for one last race against the clock. At 33.7 km long – the race is far from over, until it’s over.
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