Friday, November 25, 2011

Vuelta al País Vasco 2012

The Vuelta al País Vasco will, as is the case every year, be the focal point of Euskaltel's 2012 season. The organizers of the team's home race yesterday revealed next year's recorrido - a route including two summit finishes.

The race - still a vital part of the UCI's WorldTour - will be held over six stages from the 2nd to the 7th of april over the following terrain:

Stage 1: Gueñes - Gueñes
Stage 2: Gueñes - Vitoria-Gasteiz
Stage 3: Vitoria-Gasteiz - Alto de Iberdin (Bera de Bidasoa)
Stage 4: Bera de Bidasoa - Santuario de Arrate
Stage 5: Eibar - Oñati
Stage 6: Oñati - Oñati (ITT)

The route is pretty similar to what's been the norm the last few years: several medium mountain days bookended with a final day time trial from and to the much-used location of Oñati, northeast of Vitoria-Gasteiz. What's new (and needed) though, is the inclusion of not one, but two mountain top finishes. We all know the Arrate, site of the finish of stage 4, but the climb of Iberdin will be knew to most of us. Once a mainstay of the race, the slopes of Iberdin hasn't featured since 1994 and is likely to tip the race more in the favour of the pure climbers (read Samu, Contador, Antón) than the puncheurs with time trial pedigree. Especially so considering the punishing Arrate is up the next day. Distinguishes riders like Gorospe, Chiapucci, Bolts and Cassani have all come out tops on the Iberdin in the past - the next one to do so might just go on to win the whole race.

Samu will lead the charge for Euskaltel and is as usual one of the pre-race favourites. Contador has stated his intention of taking part (is he's cleared of wrongdoing in the ever-lasting clenbuterol affair by the CAS that is), and the Schlecks have done the same. I assume Alejandro Valverde will also make an appearance, so the competition is likely to be fiercer than ever (but then again we say that every year). No matter the participation though, the inclusion of the Iberdin and the Arrate make the Vuelta al País Vasco stand out as one of the races to watch in 2o12.


Anonymous said...

This is a profiel from the climb to Ibardin!

Magnus said...

Thank you so much, I was looking for something like that! 5,3km at 5,3% should cause splits!


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