PREVIEW LA VUELTA HOLANDA
This Friday it's finally time: the Gran Salida of La Vuelta 2022 in the Netherlands! Good time to see what awaits the riders. We take you through the routes of the three stages, the highlights and of course the contenders for a stage victory.
The 77th edition of La Vuelta will kick off on August 19th with a team time trial through the center of Utrecht. Just like during the Tour de France in 2015, the riders will start and finish at the Jaarbeurs. The teams drive via the Ledig Erf towards the Maliebaan, the oldest bicycle path in the Netherlands. The peloton continues on its way to the Griftpark, after which it arrives in the Overvecht district. There, the riders have to squeeze the brakes hard because of a U-turn. On the way to Leidsche Rijn, speeds will reach up to 60 kilometers per hour. Finally, they return to the Jaarbeurs via the Meern. In total, the course is 23.2 kilometers long. The course is flat, but the short climbs at the different bridges will certainly have an impact on the riders when they are on the road.
CHALLENGERS TEAM TIME TRIAL
There are plenty of contenders for the stage win. Teams like Jumbo Visma, Ineos Grenadiers and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team all have some real hard riders on their team. It is difficult to point out one clear favorite, also because no team time trial has been ridden in the big rounds this year. The last time La Vuelta started a team time trial was in 2019. Then Astana won, ahead of Deceunick-Quick-Step and Team Sunweb.
STAGE 2: 'S-HERTOGENBOSCH - UTRECHT
The second stage of the Vuelta a España is one for the sprinters. The start will take place at the Citadel in 's-Hertogenbosch. After a short neutralization, the riders are given free rein at the Brabanthallen. Via the Zuidwaterlinie the peloton heads for Gelderland and the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. In the latter area, the riders can earn the first mountain points. They will then pass the Amerongse Berg (2.1 km at 2.4%), a hill that cannot be compared to what awaits the riders in Spain, but will certainly provide a spectacular race. There are probably enough Dutch riders who have set their sights on this. Finally, the peloton drives via Soesterberg Air Base, the place where the first intermediate sprint is, to the Utrecht Science Park.
Most likely the ride will end in a massive sprint. Contenders include Sam Bennet (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). The final massive sprint in La Vuelta, stage 16 in 2021, was won by European champion Fabio Jakobsen.
STAGE 3: BREDA - BREDA
After two days of racing in Utrecht, Gelderland and East Brabant, the riders will pass through West Brabant in the third stage. The peloton starts at Breda Castle. Shortly afterwards, a special moment follows: the cyclists walk by hand through the Grote Kerk of Breda. The neutralization ends in Ulvenhout after which the riders continue their way to Chaam. Not much later, the peloton even crosses the Dutch border and crosses the Belgian town of Baarle-Hertog. They drive to the Brabantse Wal via Oosterhout, Fijnaart and Bergen op Zoom. In Woensdrecht a short climb (400 meters at 3.7%) awaits them where mountain points can be earned. At about 28 km from the finish, the riders will pass the cycling villages of Rucphen and Sint Willebrord (where the intermediate sprint is also located).
The stage ends in front of the Chassé Theater in Breda. Just like in the second stage, the sprinters can indulge themselves in the third stage. Will it be a second stage win for the winner of the day before? Or will one of the other sprinters take the stage victory?