Vuelta 2007 preview

Next year's Tour of Spain will adapt an unusual pattern, with the first big day in the mountains...

Tough opening half and hard finale make for suspenseful race

Next year's Tour of Spain will adapt an unusual pattern, with the first big day in the mountains coming early on and then many of the other principal difficulties taking place in the first half of the event. It should make for nervous, aggressive racing. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes was at Wednesday's launch in Madrid.

As official race song, Nena Daconte's infectious 'En Qué Estrella Estará" was played many times a day during this year's Tour of Spain. On Wednesday, the organisers continued that theme by launching next year's event under the title "El Sueño de Las Estrellas" or, in English, the Dream of the Stars. Ongoing tensions with the UCI plus suggestions that the Spanish Tour could end up being reduced in length have perhaps been part of this push to underline the idea that this race is an important target for the big names in the sport. Hence the catchy slogan. But whatever the reason, Unipublic appears to have done more than enough to ensure an exciting contest next year.

The general feedback from the riders at the launch was that the 2007 edition is similar to, or perhaps a little easier than the 2006 race. What makes it interesting, though, is that many of the hard stages come very soon after the start, with three summit finishes inside the first ten days. The route settles down for a while but then gets more competitive near the end, making it likely to be a very open, unpredictable tour.

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