A race know for its sun in the South of Spain, the Vuelta a Andalucia is a climbers race with the year's first time trial thrown in as well.
On stage 1, an elite group of six escaped after the final day’s climb, 22km from the finish. The group held together to the line with Alejandro Valverde besting Wout Poels (SKY) and Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ) on the line. The three were joined by Diego Rosa (SKY), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain Merida), and Alberto Contador (Trek). The stage 2 climb showed FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot’s early strength, as he took the win ahead of Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde.
The third stage’s time trial would be a test for the GC favorites, as race leader Alberto Contador would have to hold off the French time trial champion Thibaut Pinot and the all rounder Alejandro Valverde. Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo) took the 12km TT by one second ahead of Valverde, seven seconds ahead of Contador, and nine seconds ahead of Pinot. With the second place, Valverde moved into the leader’s jersey by one second.
Stage 4 showed a fast finish with Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) taking the win. The fifth and final stage was won in the rain by a leading breakaway of six. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took the sprint, with Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) in second. The race leaders finished in the peloton, securing Valverde’s overall victory.
With the win, Movistar goes two for two in Spain this year, as Nairo Quintana won the Vuelta Valencia earlier this month. Valverde has now won Andalucia five of the last six editions, with Team Sky’s Chris Froome winning the race in 2015.
The Tour of Langkawi will start later this week, as will the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Opening Weekend of the European classic season will be next weekend, with the peloton facing the now World Tour event, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne race.