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The Tour of Spain starts on Saturday in Burgos for three weeks of racing until Santiago de Compostela. On the starting line, Slovenian Primoz Roglic will try to win his third Vuelta.
The Tour of Spain started on Saturday August 14 in the city of Burgos. The Slovenian Primoz Roglic, newly crowned Olympic time trial champion in Japan, already twice winner of the Vuelta, appears as the big favorite to his own succession.
Like last season, Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) is lining up for the Tour of Spain to take revenge for a ruined Tour de France where he abandoned at the 9th stage. In case of victory at the end of the three weeks of racing between Burgos and Santiago de Compostela, the Galician capital which had already crowned Alberto Contador in 2014, Roglic could become the first rider to win three Vuelta in a row since Roberto Heras (2003 , 2004, 2005).
However this year, the course seems cut out for him, between altitude and speed: eleven stages of relief (including seven of mountain) and two individual time trials – during the first stage, Saturday around Burgos, and during the last, around the city of Compostela.
21 stages, between altitude and speed
After a 2020 edition disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the runners will return this year to a classic 21-stage formula. However, there will be a novelty: the ascent of the terrible Gamoniteiru, an endless pass of 15 km at 10-12% average slope which rises to more than 1,700 meters, and which the Vuelta will climb for the first time in its history during of the 18th stage.
It will be the day after an already grueling 17th stage, which will end in style near the magnificent lakes of Covadonga, after two climbs to the top of Collada Llomena, also unprecedented on the Tour of Spain. Two stages which could decide the fate of the race, before the last three stages in Galicia.
Facing Roglic, there will be no Tadej Pogacar here. But even in the absence of the double winner coming out of the Tour de France, the competition will be fierce.
Bernal, Carapaz and Landa on the lookout
Egan Bernal (Ineos), winner of the Giro in May, dreams of becoming the 10th rider to win two grand tours in the same year, a feat that only Contador and Christopher Froome have been able to achieve in the 21st century.
With his coronation on the Grande Boucle in 2019, Bernal could even enter the very closed club of sacred champions on the three big laps, and would become the youngest rider to achieve this treble, at only 24 years old.
The other main rival of Roglic will be Richard Carapaz (Ineos), who has just won the gold medal in the online event of the Olympics, just after finishing the Tour de France on the third step of the podium. But the Ecuadorian will undoubtedly have to be satisfied with a role of Bernal’s luxury teammate in this Vuelta.
Among the outsiders, there is in particular the Basque Mikel Landa, recent winner of the Tour de Burgos and well surrounded within the Bahrain formation, or the trio Valverde – Mas – Lopez for the Movistar.
Among the French, the two main attractions are Romain Bardet (DSM) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), who finished best climber and 14th in the Vuelta 2020.