By Shane Stokes in Granada
With just two days to go before the start of this year's Vuelta, the 20 ProTour teams and two wild card selections have made the journey to historic Granada, where the 60th edition of the Tour of Spain will get under way on Saturday. Most of the teams arrived yesterday to the area, with some staying in the town and others in the surrounding areas.
Euskaltel Euskadi, Illes Balears, Liberty Seguros, Fassa Bortolo, Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, Francaise des Jeux, Lampre, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank, Saunier Duval and Phonak, plus the wild card selection of Relax Fuenlabrada, will be based in Granada for the next few days. Meanwhile, Cofidis, Liquigas, T-Mobile, CSC, Davitamon Lotto, Quick.Step, Discovery Channel and the second wild card, Comunidad Valenciana, are staying a short distance outside the town.
After making the journey, riders headed out yesterday to stretch their legs and check out some of the roads that will be used over the first two days of the race. Things get underway on Saturday with a 7 kilometre prologue starting and finishing in Granada and taking the riders up 830 metres past the site of the incredible Moorish Alhambra palace. While there is little sign of pre-race publicity around the town, the status of the Vuelta and the nature of the Spanish as a sports-mad public means that the route should be lined with passionate spectators, further heightening riders' motivation.
Granada will also be the focus for day two of the race, with the 189.3 kilometre stage to Cordoba beginning there. The peloton will take in three hot spot sprints along the way, with the flat nature of the route making a bunch gallop quite likely.
Before then, the riders will continue their pre-race preparation. That is, getting in the miles, talking to the press and, for those based in Northern Europe, adapting to the heat that they will face over the next three weeks. The weather in the South of Spain has been scorching of late, with daily temperatures between 30 and 36 degrees.