Ruta del Sol preview: Chris Froome, Mikel Landa and Steven Kruijswijk in action
The Ruta del Sol takes place from February 14-18 (Bryn Lennon/Velo/Tim De Waele/Getty Images)

The 2018 European cycling season continues this week at the Ruta del Sol in southern Spain from Wednesday to Sunday.

Also known as the Vuelta a Andaluca, the five-day race is made up of two uphill finishes, one sprint, one day for the all-rounders and one individual time trial.

There are seven UCI WorldTour teams taking part: AG2R La Mondiale, Astana Pro Team, EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, Lotto Soudal, Movistar Team, Team LottoNL-Jumbo and Team Sky.

The race generally favours climbers and was won last year by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team). The veteran Spaniard is not back to defend his title, so the favourites for victory are Chris Froome (Team Sky), Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) and Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).

We’ll be publishing riders’ power, cadence, heart rate and speed data throughout the race, as well as showing you where they are on the road and the time gaps between different groups.

You can view the data for free on Velon’s app, which you can download from the following links.



Here is a closer look at the five stages.

Stage 1

Start: 1130 CET. Estimated finish: 1642 CET.

The race starts with a rolling day packed with six categorised climbs. It’s unlikely to be selective enough to make it a key general classification day, but it’s far too difficult for the pure sprinters, so a reduced-bunch sprint between all-rounders is the most likely outcome.

Stage 2

Start: 1300 CET. Estimated finish: 1641 CET.

This is the race’s queen stage and should have the biggest say on who wins overall. Four categorised climbs on the middle section of the stage should whittle the peloton down, but it is on the final climb to Alto de las Allenadas where the favourites will battle with each other and the key gaps are created.

Stage 3

Start: 1200 CET. Estimated finish: 1609 CET.

This should be a day for the sprinters. There are two categorised climbs just after the half way mark, but they’re relatively small and there is plenty of time for sprinters to catch back up to the peloton if they are dropped.

Stage 4

Start: 1145 CET. Estimated finish: 1637 CET

Today should be another stage for the all-rounders and riders who can sprint uphill. It’s not quite tough enough for the general classification riders, but the pure sprinters will probably find it too difficult and some of them may already have been dropped on the earlier climb to Puerto de las Palomas anyway. The last 1.2km is almost entirely uphill.

Stage 5

Start: 1300 CET. Estimated finish: 1540 CET.

The race ends with a short and not overly technical individual time trial. The course climbs gently at the start and descends gently back to the finish line but is otherwise mostly flat and should be a test of a raw power.

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