Vuelta a España Stage 1 Preview
The race starts off with a short team time-trial in the Costa Calida, Murcia for those unfamiliar. It's a fairly short effort, brute power will be the most important thing between the teams here as the riders come in very fresh and the stints given will be small. The first gaps between the favourites will be seen here but likely unsignificant seconds will be gained/lost, most excitingly the fight for who gets the first lead of the race and what rider gets to use that red jersey as the real race begins. The roads are mainly wide, 2 lanes-wide except for a section in the end which you can see below.
It is a very straightforward route on map and the profile doesn't show but there are some rolling sections present, most in the final half of the time-trial by the sea, it's quite a rugged seashore and features some very fast downhill sections where the riders will surely hit 70Km/h, so it will really be a case of having very powerful riders, sprinters may even be a good advantage for such a parcours. There aren't many technical sections but the final kilometers will be stressful, there's a nasty chicane coming from a slight downhill with 2Km to go and the final kilometer has a very narrow road, before the final turn in a smooth cobblestone road into the final couple hundred meters of the stage.
Quite warm, despite being late in the afternoon the temperatures will still be close to 30 degrees and the wind will come from the east with moderate intensity, which will mean there is a tailwind for the final kilometers, which means the vital part are the first kilometers because it's where the speed won't be as high and the main gaps will be made.
This is an interesting discipline where the level are not plain as one would initially think. Ignoring that some teams have a bigger focus in time-trialing, the bikes are something vital for this effort, more when it's individual but well noticed here aswell. In that field there are some teams noticeably strong in pretty much every race they do, Jumbo-Visma, INEOS, EF which had a big improvement in their bike this year which is easy to notice by looking at their results in time-trials and also CCC, outsiders and the team isn't close to as strong as the others but they have a good background work in the discipline, coming from the disbanded BMC and having Giant bikes.
However looking at this year's results and the teams present there is no iluding Jumbo's favouritism. With riders like Roglic and Tony Martin there's the big firepower but there's a lot of it in the back aswell.
Secondarily there is Mitchelton and CCC, two teams that are quite strong in the discipline, CCC have actually quite a solid one with lots of heavyweight riders in, and on the opposite Mitchelton have riders like Chaves/Nieve/Grmay that won't be able to do the necessary to pull off surprises like they have previously. There's INEOS, a good call for tomorrow they have lots of riders suited for the terrain, Deceuninck may even be Jumbo's main opposition as they are racing with a team full of heavyweights except for James Knox, then there's Movistar, they don't usually do well in these but in the Vuelta they have the habit to be stronger than usual, and riders like Oliveira and Soler can be crucial for their time.
EF are confident in this type of race, besides Sergio Higuita there's no-one who would really struggle in the effort so they are similar to most teams- And the last team that should be mentioned is really Sunweb, they usually do good in team time-trials but they are far from their best squad here and excluding Nikias Arndt and may even Kelderman there are no big engines to match the other mega teams.
⭐ INEOS, Sunweb, FDJ, Bora
There's no ignoring, Jumbo have been the dominant force in this year's TTT's and they do have a strong team to back their results here. Big favourites and surely they will know how to use their firepower.
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