[Underneath article was written before the start of the Ruta del Sol and has not been updated]
Obviously, you have to be a versatile rider to win the overall. A puncher is likely to climb to the leader’s jersey on the first day as the finish is at the end of a short and sharp hill in Alcalá de los Gazules. Partly covered with cobbles, it is an irregular toil with ramps of up to 18%. Eventual winner Tim Wellens took the day honours on this climb in 2018.
The 3rd stage brings an individual time trial of 16.2 kilometres, which is long enough for GC ambitions to vaporize. Recently, Adam Yates was ruled out of overall contention in the Tour of Valencia after a so-so ITT. On the other hand, Ion Izagirre won the race as he was the best GC rider in the time trial.
The penultimate day of the Volta a Andalucia is going to be decisive. The Queen Stage is only 120 kilometres long, yet takes in four climbs. The action will probably be centered on two back-to-back climbs. Güéjar Sierra (10.1 kilometres at 3.4%) continues onto the race’s master-piece Alto de Hazallanas (16.2 kilometres at 5.7%) before a 23 kilometres descent to the line in Granada.
Tim Wellens is the defending champion in Andalucia. Featuring mainly short and sharp last climbs, last year’s route suited his talents perfectly. The long ascents of the Queen Stage are likely to bring another type of rider to the fore.
Obviously, last year’s winner of the Vuelta a España is a rider to watch. Simon Yates kicks off his 2019 season in the Ruta del Sol.
Favourites 2019 Ruta del Sol
***** Simon Yates, Ion Izagirre
**** Jakob Fuglsang, Steven Kruijswijk
*** Adam Yates, Tim Wellens, Dylan Teuns
** Esteban Chaves, Luis León Sánchez
* Pello Bilbao, Pierre Rolland, Jack Haig