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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, December 21, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. - Michelangelo

Story of the Giro d'Italia volume 2

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Defending champion Simon Yates discusses 2019 Vuelta a España

Here's the post from Yate's Mitchelton-Scott team:

The 2019 La Vuelta a España route was announced this evening (December 19) at the official race presentation in Alicante where defending champion Simon Yates was amongst the attendees.

The course looks to be as tough as ever with an 18km city centre team time trial to start, eight mountain top finishes and a challenging 4km gravel road section during a hard stage in Andorra.

Although race program decisions for the second half of the season will not be made until after the Giro d’Italia, the 2018 winner was excited to see the demanding nature of the course.

Simon Yates

Simon Yates in his 2018 Vuelta red jersey. Sirotti photo

Here’s what he had to say:
Simon Yates - “There’s some spectacular summit finishes, some that I know already and it looks really difficult.

"I think in general the route looks good, with a team time trial at the start we have a really good strong team there and also the stage to Andorra I know the roads really well, which we saw this year.

“With the individual time trial I am slowly improving year on year and I think I am at a level now were I am not afraid of the time trials. For the rest of the stages, there’s many mountains and from what I have seen from the route there’s a lot longer climbs which is good.

“Watching the video tonight from the race this year, it brings back really good memories and it's good to see thar the Vuelta 2019 look as hard as always.”

Longer lengthier climbs
With 3272.2km to be covered in 21 days with 59 categories climbs along the way, La Vuelta a España 2019 boast a range of terrain and as expected an abundance of climbing. During some fairly short stages comes some notably lengthier climbs such as the Puerto de Peña Negra on the penultimate stage.

Simon Yates - “There’s many tough stages, some of the stages are short with concentrated climbing but sometimes these aren’t so bad because they are so short you can really get everything out. It is the ones that are really long that you have to conserve your energy a little more for the finals, they can be more tricky.

“The last couple of years have had many short steep climbs but I saw there’s more longer drawn out climbs for 2019 which I think actually suits me better. But as always it really depends on how the stage is going.”

Off-road obstacle and back-to-back days
Unlike previous editions, the 2019 La Vuelta adds more challenges to the already tricky stages with the likes of an off-road gravel section on stage nine.

The second half of the race is stacked with back-to-back climbs which may leave the race open until the final moments for an exciting and unpredictable finale.

Simon Yates - “I’ve been along the off-road section in Andorra many times, it is actually a short-cut to go home and it isn’t as bad as it looks on it's own, but to have it during a mountainous Andorra stage is very difficult.

“There’s not only the Andorra stage that looks hard, there’s a lot of stages with many, many metres of climbing that all look very difficult.

"It is a very typical Vuelta route, there’s quite a lot of stages back-to-back that are really really hard. I would have to do more recon to know some of the stages in more details but as I say it looks very difficult.”

And here's Team Quick-Step's take on the 2019 Vuelta:

The season's last Grand Tour, held between August 25 and September 15, will mark the red jersey's tenth anniversary.


The 2019 Vuelta route

For the first time since 2011, Vuelta a España will kick off from the province of Alicante, with a flat 18km-long team time trial hosted by Salinas de Torrevieja, the first of three stages to take place on the Costa Blanca. The general classification will start to take shape early, after a couple of stages that the sprinters will target, including one finishing in Calpe, where our team recently concluded its first winter training camp.

Observatorio Astronomico de Javalambre (11.8km, 7.8%) is where the red jersey contenders will show their intentions for the first time, before the steep wall to Mas de la Costa, which puts on the table a 12.5% average gradient over its four kilometers. One of the shortest road stages in the history of the race is set to take place on the second Sunday, when the peloton will travel from Andorra la Vella to Cortals d'Encamp, a leg-sapping stage made even more complicated by a 4km-long section of dirt roads, followed less than 24 hours later by a rolling 36.1km individual time trial in the French town of Pau.

Once again, the charming Basque Country will feature on the course with several short and steep hills that will bring plenty of excitement to the race before the arrival to Los Machucos, in the Cantabrian Mountains, on an ascent whose grinding roads are expected to create significant gaps between the overall favourites, just like they did in 2017.

Alto de la Cubilla, Puerto de Navacerrada, Puerto de la Morcuera and Alto de Gredos are the main attractions of the final week, which also includes three opportunities for the fast men: Guadalajara, Toledo – where the organisers will celebrate six decades since Federico Bahamontes' memorable triumph at the Tour de France – and Madrid, host of the final stage for the 50th time and venue of Quick-Step Floors victories at each of the past two editions.

Lotto-Soudal's director sportif reacts to 2019 Vuelta route

The team sent me this:

Yesterday, the course of the Vuelta 2019 was unveiled. The 74th edition of this Grand Tour will be taking place from 24 August until 15 September. The Vuelta will start with a team time trial in Torrevieja and finish with a sprint stage in the centre of Madrid. Lotto Soudal sports director Mario Aerts went to the presentation and shares his first thoughts.

Mario Aerts: “It will once again be a hard Vuelta, with many elevation metres. There are even less opportunities for sprinters than previous editions. In theory the sprinters get six stages in which they could have a chance to win, but on two of those occasions we’ll have to wait if the finish isn’t too steep. I’m thinking about the stage to Toledo for example. Of course there are some tough mountain stages; the Vuelta is heading to Andorra again. The organisation has discovered new climbs, but luckily there aren’t many extremely steep climbs. Good news for our team is the fact that there are sufficient opportunities for breakaway riders to try and win a stage. Unfortunately the Vuelta doesn’t start with an individual time trial, because then Victor Campenaerts might have tried to conquer the first leader’s jersey. In general, I think it’s a beautiful course and it could be exciting for the overall victory until the last weekend.”

New UAE Team Emirates jersey presented

Here's the team news release:

The elegance of the design, with the white’s clarity to enhance the brands and the main sponsors of the team: these are the principle qualities of the new UAE Team Emirates jersey. Champion System produces the new jersey, the team’s official supplier.

The precision of the details offer an added value to all the entire race-wear range, supplied to each individual cyclist in a personalized version, size and with his last name and country’s flag on the back.

UAE Team Emirates jersey

Dan Martin, Fabio Aru & Alexander Kristoff in the 2019 UAE kit

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