Vuelta a España

Where: Spain and Andorra
When: August 22 – September 13, 2015
Rank: Grand Tour

What had been expected to be the hardest day at this year’s Vuelta, stage 11 in Andorra did not disappoint. The gruelling stage saw Chris Froome drop out of overall contention after an early crash, and all but end his ambitions for a Tour-Vuelta double.

Astana stole the day with Mikel Landa winning the stage and Fabio Aru moving into the red jersey. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) did well to limit his losses on a day made for climbers, and remains in a podium position in third at 30 seconds. Joaquim Rodriguez occupies second place at 27 seconds, after battling through the stage he helped to design.

With the first rest day out the way, and the GC well and truly shaken up, this year’s Vuelta is starting to hot up into a battle of the big hitters. Looking ahead, Dumoulin can feel satisfied with his current position as he is by far the best time triallist in the top ten, and could take huge chunks of time from his rivals on stage 17’s ride against the clock. There are a fair few climbs between now and then, however, so the GC could look very different when the TT bikes come into use.

The spotlight at this year’s Vuelta was first on an ill-advised opening team time trial, for which the route was so unpopular with riders that it was eventually removed from the general classification.

Then, on day two of the race, Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified for holding onto a team car. The only consolation for the Kazakh team is that it has two strong riders in Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa who can target the GC instead — but it completes a miserable year for the 2014 Tour de France champion.

This year’s Vuelta route appears to favour the climbers, but the inclusion of a relatively long, flat time trial could see riders such as Quintana losing time to the likes of Froome.

The Vuelta will also ride through Andorra in this year’s edition, with an extraordinarily hard stage 11 just after the rest day that takes in six categorised climbs; including an especial category climb and a first category summit finish.

The 21 stages of the 2015 Vuelta take place between August 22 and September 13.

Key info: Route/stages | Start list | Where to watch: live television and highlights | Race preview

Key riders: Chris Froome | Nairo Quintana | Joaquim Rodriguez | Vincenzo Nibali | Alejandro Valverde