Primoz Roglic, a Slovenian who transitioned from ski jumping to cycling in 2012 and was one of the pre-race favorites, was involved in a crash with other riders from his Jumbo-Visma team. The year's Vuelta is without many top names, including defending champion Simon Yates, Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz.
Geraint Thomas, Julian Alaphilippe, Tom Dumoulin, Vincenzo Nibali, Mikel Landa and two-time former Vuelta champion Chris Froome are also absent. In Sunday's second stage, riders will face a hilly route of nearly 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Benidorm to Calpe on the southeastern coast of Spain.
The 21-day race is expected to be decided in the northern mountains. It will hit the Pyrenees in the enclave country of Andorra on Stage 9, when riders will face five mountain climbs in 94 kilometers (58 miles).
Stages 13, 15 and 16 are also hard mountain hikes that will whittle down the title hopefuls before a final week in the rugged hills of central Spain.
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