The 64th edition of the Vuelta a Andalucia, the “Race to the Sun” starts tomorrow, February 14th in the coastal town of Mijas in southern Spain. The five stage, 700 km race includes three days in the mountains, two hilltop finishes, and culminates in a 13 km time trial around Barbate.
Thanks to a challenging route that features 16 categorized climbs and some of the world’s best stage racing teams, Rally Cycling is bringing a potent roster to Spain.
“Andalucia will be the biggest test of our European trip,” said Team Director Pat McCarty. “With the riders we brought to Spain we are targeting the overall while still trying to put riders up the road in breakaways. Our guys are prepared for what is sure to be an extremely fast race.”
Stages one, two, and four take the riders through the mountains to the north where Rob Britton, Nigel Ellsay, and Kyle Murphy will look to finish high in the overall. In stage three, a 165 km trip from Mancha Real to Herrera, the team plans to look after Ryan Anderson and Colin Joyce in the hopes of delivering them for an expected sprint finish. The final stage, a 13 km time trial on flat terrain, will be an opportunity for Evan Huffman and Matteo Dal-Cin to test themselves against the clock and some of the fastest time trialists on Earth.
After success in both field sprints and breakaways this season, it will be the first opportunity for the team to focus on a result in the general classification. The team’s GC leader Rob Britton sees the race as both a learning experience and an opportunity.
“I’m keen to put my recent knee issues behind me and continue to progress with the team here in Europe,” said Rob Britton. “Whether that means a result or simply executing a plan we’re given at the beginning of the day, we just have to keep learning and moving forward. The results don’t reflect it yet, but we’re improving little by little. We’re lining up with the best in the world and they mean business.”
Having won Andalucia for five of the last six years, Alejandro Valverde and his Movistar compatriots will be the team to beat. With defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome and Team Sky also in attendance, there are sure to be fireworks.
Director: Pat McCarty
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