Where: Andalusia, Spain
When: February 14-19 2017
Rank: UCI 2.1 Europe Tour

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the opening stage of the Ruta del Sol, out-sprinting Wout Poels (Team Sky) and Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ) at the end of an exciting day of racing.

The stage win was Valverde’s eighth in the history of the race, which he has also won overall on four occasions.

The Vuelta a Andalucia, more commonly known as the Ruta del Sol, features a start list packed with Grand Tour talent looking to get some early-season kilometres in their legs.

The 2017 Ruta del Sol route packs most of the difficult racing into the first half of the race, with the first two stage including plenty of climbing, before an important time trial on stage three.

Stage one saw the riders tackle five climbs on the 155km route from Rincón de la Victoria to Granada, with a second category ascent coming 20km from the finish.

>>> Ruta del Sol 2017 start list

The second stage is 177.9km long, starting in Torredonjimeno and concluding with a summit finish at Peña del Águila. The climb may not be long, measuring just 5.3km, but with an average gradient of nearly 10 per cent, will provide a serious test.

Stage three is an 11.9km individual time trial starting and finishing in the town of Lucena, and featuring a generally flat parcours, albeit with a steady climb in the opening kilometres.

The time trial should decide the overall race victor, with stages four and five both featuring climbing, but having flat finishes for the sprinters.

>>> Ruta del Sol 2017 TV guide

The 2016 edition of the race was won by Alejandro Valverde, and the Movistar rider will return to southern Spain in an attempt to claim his fifth victory in the race.

Chief among Valverde’s challengers should be Team Sky’s Mikel Landa, who is using the race as preparation for his assault on the Giro d’Italia.

Movistar and Sky are two of nine WorldTour teams on the Ruta del Sol start list, with Alberto Contador, Thibaut Pinot, and Warren Barguil among the other big name riders taking part.

Ruta del Sol 2017 stages

Stage one, February 15, Rincón de la Victoria to Granada, 155km: Report
Stage two, February 16, Torredonjimeno to Macha Real (Peña del Águila), 177.9km
Stage three, February 17, Lucena, 11.9km
Stage four, February 18, La Campana to Sevilla, 179.3km
Stage five, February 19, Setenil de la Bodegas to Coín, 151.5km

Key Info: Start List | TV Guide

Previous editions: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

External links: Official website (es) | Official twitter feed (es)

Full TV listings of where to catch the Ruta del Sol, an exciting early-season warm-up for the climbers

Full list of riders and teams taking part in the 2017 Ruta del Sol in Spain, from February 15-19

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