Following a successful Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, where Robin Carpenter claimed the Sprint Classification, the team heads to the 65th running of the Vuelta a Andalucía. The Ruta del Sol or “Route of the Sun” takes place in southern Spain from February 20 – 24.
Without a single flat parcours during the five-day race, the team dispatches a group of climbers to contest this historic event. Ryan Anderson, Robin Carpenter, Colin Joyce, Kyle Murphy, Gavin Mannion, Emerson Oronte, and Svein Tuft will take the start.
The main highlight of stage one, a climb to Alcalá de los Gazules, is a 1.2 km grind at 10.8% over partially cobbled roads to the finish. The race organizers wasted no time in throwing the general classification riders straight into the fire.
Stage two is the best opportunity for the sprinters at this climber-centric stage race with the final 5.6 km gently rising to the finish. Colin Joyce and Ryan Anderson will be all-in to contest the sprint.
After winning the uphill time trial en route to claiming the overall title at last year’s Colorado Classic, Gavin Mannion looks to the hilly 16 km time trial on stage three of Andalucía.
“The course at Ruta del Sol has a bit of everything and suits me quite well, especially the time trial,” said Mannion. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to measure myself against the best riders in the world.”
Saturday’s queen stage to Granada features two Category 1 ascents totaling over 16 km at an average of 8.5%. The peloton will be shattered over the final summit with only 24 km remaining in this decisive stage. Supporting Mannion over the climbs will be the trio of Kyle Murphy, Emerson Oronte, and team captain Svein Tuft.
If the five categorized climbs on the final stage don’t shake things up, the numerous non-categorized climbs will. This will be the best opportunity for breakaway riders who are out of overall contention to go on the attack. Look for Robin Carpenter to employ his trademark attacking style and feature on the roads to Alhaurín de la Torre.
Team Director Pat McCarty feels the team is in a solid position headed into their final Spanish race of the spring.
“The team looks good and has shown some nice improvements over last year,” said McCarty. “It’s always tough traveling to Europe, especially for the first racing block and the team has responded well. The first two stages in Andalucia are good for us so we’ll focus on those finishes before turning our climbers loose later in the week.”
Stage 1, Wednesday, February 20: Sanlúcar de Barramed – Alcalá de los Gazules (170.5k, hilltop finish)
Stage 2, Thursday, February 21: Sevilla – Torredonjimeno (216.5k, rolling)
Stage 3, Friday, February 22: (ITT) Mancha Real – La Guardia de Jaén (16.2k, hilly)
Stage 4, Saturday, February 23: Armilla – Granada (119.9k, mountainous)
Stage 5, Sunday, February 24: Otura – Alhaurín de la Torre (163.9k, hilly)
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