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Vuelta 2016 Is Here: What Can We Expect?

By Christopher Ashley

As we head towards the last Grand Tour of the season the only thing we can be certain of is that The Vuelta will feature pain, excitement, and a little more pain.

Peaks and troughs

The Vuelta returns to the Lakes of Covadonga for the 20 th time since 1983. Stage 10 features more than 12km of climbing, with an average gradient of over 7%, which is considered difficult even for cars. Some sections edge up to 17.5% gradient – but at least the riders can console themselves with some of the most spectacular views in Grand Tour history.

Most of Vuelta 2016 will take place in the north of Spain, hugging mountains and foraying briefly into France on Stage 14. Riders will have to wrestle four imposing peaks in a row, including La Pierre-Saint- Martin, which defined Chris Froome’s Tour de France victory in 2015.

Riders with unfinished business

Froome is competing at the Vuelta for the 3 rd year running – but he looked tired at Rio, and stamina will determine the winner of this most gruelling of tours. The fact that Froome is competing indicates just how important this race has become. Froome told one journalist, “You could say I have unfinished business…”.

Contador crashed out of Le Tour and missed the Olympics, so having recovered from the bruises he may have relatively fresh legs in comparison to his biggest rivals. Expect Contador to make a big statement early in the race.


Reputation recovery

BMC is the only team to come close to Team Sky’s level of investment, and both Tejay van Garderen and Samuel Sánchez will want to prove their worth, especially after the disappointing Tour of the Basque Country.


Nairo Quintana’s lacklustre performance at Le Tour may explain his absence from the Olympics, but that makes him a fresher pair of legs, and this may be his chance to earn his place as a race leader for the 2017 Tour de France.