Vuelta route gets positive reviews

Riders and teams reacted with enthusiasm to the route chosen for the 2010 Vuelta a España.

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Riders and teams reacted with enthusiasm to the route chosen for the 2010 Vuelta a España.

Revealed Wednesday in Sevilla, the season’s third grand tour is offering up a varied and interesting route to try to entice the world’s top names to the September race.

The route returns to the Pyrénées as well as the classic climbs in northern Spain, such as the Lagos de Covadonga. Several new climbs, including the Cotobello and the Bola del Mundo, add more spice to the Vuelta.

Here’s a recap of what some of the top names had to say:

Alejandro Valverde: ‘I hope to be at Vuelta’
2009 Vuelta a España champion

“At first glance, it’s a very beautiful course, very hard, one that will make for a Vuelta that’s emotional from start to finish. The opening stage of the team time trial is a complicated first challenge. There’s no lacking of mythic climbs or time trials. Also, the Vuelta will pass almost directly in front of my house, with two stages in Murcia, with is an extra motivation for me.”

“The season is very long and a lot depends on how things develop. I hope to be at the Vuelta. The Tour is my principal objective. It’s the most demanding race in the world and it’s different than the Vuelta. But having won the Vuelta demonstrates that I am capable of winning a grand tour and, above all, survive three weeks. To win (the Tour) will not be easy because Alberto Contador has demonstrated his superiority in the past few editions, but we’re all human, and him just as much as me, we can all have a bad day.”

Samuel Sánchez: ‘Cotobello will be the queen’s stage’
Second in 2009 Vuelta

“The route is spectacular and it’s innovative enough that the fans will be able to enjoy just as much as the riders. The organization is searching out new climbs and that brings new energy to the race. For me, the queen’s stage will be between Gijón and Cotobello. It’s a stunning landscape and a great setting for a bike race. The ‘Bola del Mundo’ climb on the second-to-last day is a hard climb with very important steepness in the last few kilometers which will give everyone something to talk about.”

Carlos Sastre: ‘A climber’s Vuelta’
Three-time podium finisher

“I sincerely believe, just like what happened with the Giro and the Tour, that the Vuelta route is one that clearly benefits the climbers. There are two time trials – one for team and another individual – but that’s compensated with by these seven summit finishes and other hard climbs. It’s an explosive and spectacular route, with classics climbs like Covadonga and Xorret del Catí and other climbs I don’t know, like Peña Cabarga and Cotobello.”

“Now that I’ve seen the routes of the three grand tours, I need a few days to think about things and take the right decision. I will decide which races that I want to start the season off with and which grand tours I will race in the end.”

Alberto Contador: ‘I don’t know if I will race Vuelta’
2008 Vuelta champion

“I need my team to be 100 percent for July, so if we’re thinking about the Vuelta, that only makes things more difficult. Whether or not I race the Vuelta depends on what happens in July. Right now we don’t know how we’re going to respond. It’s a beautiful course for the spectators and challenging for the riders. The night-time time trial is complicated and if I go, it would have been better for me to have two individual time trials.”

Allan Peiper: ‘We like it.’
Columbia-HTC director

(Columbia was one of just three teams to secure stage victories in all three major Tours last season.)

“The Vuelta a España 2010 route is very demanding and the racing will be fast-moving and exciting all the way through, which is how we like it. In the past we’ve always done well in those kinds of races. In next year’s Vuelta, the mountain stages aren’t really concentrated in one or two big blocks like in the Tour de France. So with so much different terrain on offer, we can expect opportunities to come up constantly. Overall, the route favors the real climbers, because the opening 16-kilometer team time trial will be won and lost by seconds, not minutes, and there’s only one individual time trial afterwards. However, you start to suffer on one of those big climbs in the Pyrenees and you can lose a minute a kilometer. The route is deliberately designed so you can lose or win the Vuelta right up to the second to last day, as has happened in the past. It’s going to be a real challenge.

“For Columbia-HTC, this is going to be an interesting race, one in which our GC contenders and some of our other riders will have a real chance to shine.”

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