Nairo Quintana (Movistar) believes that the opening stages of the 2015 Vuelta a España could cause the race favourites problems with the opening seven days of the race including four hill-top finishes.
“The first stages we know that they must be done, that there shouldn’t be too many complications but they could cause some problems,” Quintana told Spanish website Biciciclismo. “They are not usually bad roads but they are explosive days, especially the first two summit finishes. We will be in summer and the heat could be an influence but on those stages in the mountains it will perhaps be somewhat less noticeable.”
The first week hilly stages will be an hors d’oeuvre, however, in comparison for the stages that the riders will face in the second. Unusually for a Grand Tour, the queen stage comes after the first rest day. Stage 11 will be the first of two stages in the Principality of Andorra and takes in six classified climbs – of which only one is classified lower than first category – before the riders return to Spain.
“The stage in Andorra is rough. It has no rest. It’s not long but the climbs will be terrible. It will go up and down all day,” said Quintana. “Then come the stages in the north. I climbed the Fuente del Chivo in the Circuito Montañes, although it has been six years so I don’t remember much. It will be a stage to take care, with demanding terrain. Later we will go through the summit finish of Sotres and finally the Ermita del Alba stage with very broken terrain and two very important final climbs.”
Following the second rest day in Burgos is the sole individual time trial before a series of medium mountain stages and the final jaunt up the big climbs with the penultimate day to Cercedilla. They may not be as tough as the stages in the middle week but vigilance will be key says Quintana.
“The time trial is not completely flat but it is 40km and you will have to take care in if there is wind. Surely not much will happen until the penultimate stage with (Puerto de) Cotos 20 kilometres from the finish you will have to be very attentive.”
Quintana will ride the Vuelta a España as a joint leader with Alejandro Valverde. Quintana led last year's race before crashing during the long time trial and abandoning the following day after another crash.
Riding the cobbles
Quintana is set to follow the example set by his teammate Alejandro Valverde and make a couple of appearances during the cobbled classics season. According to a report in Het Nieuwsblad, the Colombian will make his debut on the pavé at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke – as Valverde did in 2014. Quintana and his team will also take the opportunity to look at the sectors of pavé that will feature in stage 4 of the Tour de France.
“Ahead of Waregem (Dwars door Vlaanderen) or after the two races, we will see the cobbles of the Tour,” Movistar boss Unzué said at the Vuelta presentation.
He went on to confirm that Quintana would make his season debut at the Tour de San Luis at the end of January followed by Tirreno-Adriatico with Valverde opting ride the Dubai Tour, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman.
Movistar recently announced the five riders that will support Quintana at the Tour de San Luis. Last years’ time trial victor Adriano Malori returns to the race while Igor Anton, Dayer Quintana and Jasha Sütterlin ride it for the first time. Marc Soler will make his professional debut at the race.