Stage 1: Jerez de la Frontera (TTT) -
The Vuelta often gets under way with a team time trial that highlights the best features of the start city. This very short, flat test starts outside Jerez's anthropological museum and finishes on the Avenida Alvaro Domecq, which honours one of the city's sherry-making families. Over approximately 13 minutes of racing, the gaps between the 22 teams shouldn't be too large, although the course does twist over the 12.6km between start and finish. This starts in Algeciras, the port almost on Spain's most southern tip, from where ferries cross the straits of Gibraltar to Tangier. It looks like a gentle way to ease into a grand tour. The day's only climb, a cat 3 hill, comes very early on and from that point, there's barely a lump worthy of mention as the route heads north-west along Spain's Atlantic coast.
However, this is one of Europe's prime windsurfing locales, which highlights the main difficulty the Astana won last year's opening day test in Galicia, putting Jani Brajkovic in the leader's red jersey and setting up Vincenzo Nibali for his push on the overall title. It's unlikely he'll be back this year, making Sky, Movistar and Omega Pharma the teams most likely to dominate.
Fernando Escartín says:
"It's a technical course because the circuit is totally urban. The first section runs through the old part of the city for three or four kilometres and there are a few cobbled sections. After that, the roads are wide and the time gaps won't be big."
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