Yves Lampaert and Koen Pelgrim shared their thoughts on the parcours of the opening stage.
Two millenniums ago, the Romans traveled to Galicia fascinated by its gold mines, from which they managed to extract over the years 200 tones that helped them at that time finance an empire which was becoming bigger by the day. More than 2000 years later, a total of 22 teams and 198 riders will come to the same enchanting region, dubbed by many as being Spain's best kept secret, to fight for one of the most prized possessions in cycling, the coveted red jersey that rewards the leader and eventually the winner of the Vuelta a España.
For the 15th time since its inception, the Spanish Grand Tour will kick off with a test against the clock for the teams, which will take place on Saturday, August 20, over 27.8 kilometers, between Balneario de Laias and Parque Nautico de Castrelo de Miño. The parcours is mostly flat and therefore will advantage the specialists, although the riders are going to experience a change of pace in more than one occasion due to some short climbs and technical corners.
Twice runner-up at the National Championships in the individual time trial and a Grand Tour debutant, Yves Lampaert trained on the course on Friday and made an idea on what he should expect: "The route is very hard right from the beginning, when we'll face a 1.2km climb, which is quite steep. Another hill comes just a few kilometers before the finish and adds up to the technical corners and fast descents, which will make up for a very difficult race. We have to stay together and give 100% for a good result."
Koen Pelgrim, Etixx – Quick-Step's trainer, joined the team for the route recon and he too predicts a tough collective effort, one in which there won't be any room for error: "The first 1200 meters will be very important, because if you lose time on that uphill section, it's going to be difficult to gain ground back. On the other hand, if you go full gas on the climb, you risk blowing up the team. That's why it will be paramount to find the right balance. The last descent is another tricky point, but if the weather is good, it should be easier. Overall, a fast parcours awaits, not very technical and with no dangerous corners, but this doesn't mean you're allowed to lose your focus, not even for a second."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele