Vuelta a Burgos preview

The 34th Vuelta a Burgos, which runs from today (Wednesday) until Sunday 5th August, is a five-stage event classified 2.HC on the UCI European Tour, often seen as an appetiser for the subsequent Vuelta a Espana. The race started in 1946 and ran the following year before resuming in the late 1980s when it became a professional event.

What kind of race is it?

While the race has something for everyone it’s typically won by a climber. The race’s decisive queen stage is generally the final one which climaxes on the hors catégorie climb of Lagunas de Neila. Traditionally the event features a hilly parcours and, some years, an individual or team time trial.

Spanish riders have won this race more than any other nation and the most successful rider is the Basque, Marino Lejarreta, with four victories – 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990. The race’s golden years were in the 1990s when it attracted all the top riders such as Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, although neither won the overall title. Its demotion in 2005 below the UCI’s top tier meant it was deserted by sponsors and television. Accordingly, in 2009 responsibility for organising and financing the race was assumed by the local province.

The most recent winners of the event have been:

2007: Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)

2008: Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne)

2009: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne)

2010: Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

2011: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)

What happened last year?

Last year Katusha’s pint-sized Joaquim Rodriguez won two stages, the points jersey and the overall honours in dominating fashion in preparation for his assault on the leader’s jersey in the Vuelta a Espana.

Vuelta a Burgos 2011 podium l to r Dani Moreno, Joaquim and Pablo Rodriguez, Juan Jose Cobo (image courtesy of official race site)

Vuelta a Burgos 2011 podium (l to r): Dani Moreno, Joaquim and Pablo Rodriguez, Juan Jose Cobo (image courtesy of official race site)

Defending champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) claimed stage one and the leader’s cyclamen jersey atop the Cat 3 Juan del Monte. Katusha set a fierce tempo at the foot of the final climb, and Rodriguez made his move inside the final kilometre only to see it countered by Sanchez.

Rodriguez bounced back with an emphatic victory on the following stage at El Castillo in Burgos. His team again set a fast and furious tempo on the 7km finishing circuit, from which Rodriguez launched his explosive uphill attack to a solo victory with teammate Daniel Moreno runner-up. Sanchez finished third, seven seconds behind the winner, to whom relinquished the leader’s jersey.

Movistar claimed a hard-fought victory in the fast 11.6km team time trial from Pradoluendo to Belorado, beating Katusha by ten seconds. The Spanish squad reached a top speed of 66.6kph to take victory, which it dedicated to Andrea Pinarello, the recently deceased son of the team’s bicycle sponsor. Rodriguez remained in the lead, while Sanchez lost 24 seconds on the day to drop to fifth overall.

Stage four featured yet another uphill finish dominated by Katusha. Rodriguez launched his attack with 500m remaining with teammate Moreno and stage one winner Sanchez on his wheel. With 200m to go, Moreno pounced to take victory in Ciudad Romana de Clunia by just one second.

Mikel Landa (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took his maiden pro victory on the final stage on the tough uphill finish to Areniscas de los Pinares, surging clear of Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) in the final 300 metres. Cobo hung on for second place, three seconds back, while Rodriguez finished third at 12 seconds, celebrating his overall victory. Sanchez started the stage fourth overall, 21 seconds down on Rodriguez, and went for broke over the penultimate climb. But, perhaps realising he didn’t have what it would take to break Rodriguez, he elected to let Landa attack. Sanchez was dropped while Rodriguez, Moreno, Cobo and Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur-Sojasun) led the pursuit of the young Basque rider. Landa was caught by Rodriguez and Cobo but put in a late surge to take a well-deserved victory and the King of the Mountains classification. Euskaltel-Euskadi also took the team competition while Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen) took the sprints jersey.

1. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +15:12:34

2. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) +0:36

3. Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TCM) +0:45

4. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) +1:23

5. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur-Sojasun) +1:52

6. David Lopez (Movistar) +1:58

7. Pablo Lastras (Movistar) +2:06

8. Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) +2:25

9. Sergio Pardilla (Movistar) +2:34

10. Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) +2:55

This year’s race

The Vuelta a Burgos covers 775km over five days in the province of Burgos in Spain. The race starts at Miranda de Ebro and finishes, as usual, on the decisive hors catégorie climb of Lagunas de Neila, which has ramps reaching an eye watering 17%. Prior to that there are a further six climbs: three Cat 2s, one Cat 1 and a Cat 3 to tire the legs.

Vuelta a Burgos 2012: Stage 5

Vuelta a Burgos 2012: Stage 5

The first day’s stage is undulating and finishes on the Cat 3 summit at Ojo Guarena. The second day’s stage is effectively three circuits of Burgos finishing atop the Cat 3 climb Alto del Castillo. Day three is also quite lumpy –  Santo Domingo de Silos to  Lerma –  including three Cat 3 climbs, the last of which, the Alto de Majadal, is just 25km from the finish. The fourth stage is 170km along a relatively flat coastal road – one for the sprinters perhaps? However, if it’s windy the GC contenders will need to be to the fore to avoid being distanced.

18 teams are taking part: eight WorldTour teams, eight Professional Continental squads plus two Continental teams –  Orbea, the Euskaltel feeder squad, and local team Burgos-BH.

Who to watch

This event is naturally well-supported by the Spanish teams and defending champion, Rodriguez, and many others who animated last year’s race, will again be taking part. Its proximity to the Vuelta and its hilly parcours have also, this year, attracted riders whose Tour hopes were dashed by falls and illnesses. For example, Rabobank are fielding both Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema. Sky have their young, exciting Columbian duo of Sergio Henao and Olympic silver medallist Rigoberto Uran who’ll no doubt be riding in support of Chris Froome at the Vuelta.

Jonathan Monsalve (image courtesy of Androni Giocattoli Venezuela)

Jonathan Monsalve (image courtesy of Androni Giocattoli Venezuela)

Fabrice Jeandesboz (Saur Sojasun), the only rider last year to break the Spanish stranglehold on the top ten – and who won’t be taking part in the Vuelta – will no doubt be hoping to improve on his fifth position. Argos-Shimano’s want-away Alexandre Geniez will also be looking to shine and hopefully land a new contract. Apart from the Sky duo, there’s plenty of other Colombians and South Americans who’ll be finding the parcours very much to their liking: the entire Colombia Coldeportes team and Acqua & Sapone’s Carlos Betancur.

VeloVoices will be keeping a close eye on one of Androni Giocattoloi’s South Americans, Jonathan Monsalve, a 23-year old Venezuelan who racked up some impressive victories locally before moving over to Europe. He’s likely to be riding in support of team leader Emanuele Sella but might just be let off the leash on one of the hillier stages.

Race details

August 1st: Stage 1 – Miranda de Ebro to Complejo Karstico Ojo Guarene, 135km

August 2nd: Stage 2 – Burgos, 159km

August 3rd: Stage 3 – Santo Domingo de Silos to Lerma, 159km

August 4th: Stage 4 – Dona Santos to Ciudad Romana de Clunia, 170km

August 5th: Stage 5 – Comarca Pinares to Laguna de Neila, 179.5km

The Vuelta a Burgos starts on Wednesday 1st August and concludes on Sunday 5th.  For live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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