Primož Roglič won the men's time trial gold medal at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The Vuelta a España, the final Grand Tour of the 2021 season, gets underway tomorrow with Primož Roglič seeking to win a third red jersey in a row.

The Slovenian rider will not be joined at the race by compatriot and Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar, but several other leading cyclists will be in Spain to challenge him.

Tomorrow's first stage is a time trial beginning from Burgos.

Just 7.1 kilometres in length, the time trial starts in front of the cathedral, and the first rider is set to head down the start ramp just after 5pm local time, with the schedule designed to ensure the highest possible turnout of spectators.

Race director Fernando Escartín has described the course as "highly technical".

Mixing long straights with tight changes of direction, the urban route should suit the time-trial specialists, although the inclusion of a third-category ascent at the midway point could tip the advantage towards the general classification favourites, notably defending champion Roglič.

After weaving away from the start, the riders will soon be onto the first straight section, which leads into a sharp turn, beyond which the route sweeps beneath the city’s castle.

Another sharp turn leads onto the climb up to the fortress, the gradient averaging 7.1 per cent for a little more than 1km, where the intermediate time check will be taken.

The 2021 Vuelta a España will be the 76th edition of the event ©Getty Images
The 2021 Vuelta a España will be the 76th edition of the event ©Getty Images

The final section through the narrow streets surrounding the cathedral is billed as being more technical.

Roglič won time trial gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

When it comes to the battle for the red jersey, Roglič's biggest threat may come from the Ineos Grenadiers side.

Team Jumbo-Visma's Roglič will have support of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss of the United States.

Reigning Giro d'Italia champion and former Tour de France winner Egan Bernal of Colombia and former Giro d'Italia winner and new Olympic road race gold medallist Richard Carapaz from Ecuador headline a very strong Ineos squad. 

Max Schachmann of Bora-Hansgrohe has been tipped as an outsider who could contend on stage one and the race as as a whole.

The German has excelled in time-trials before - he was second in a 15km time trial at Paris-Nice last season, and has won the last two editions of the Paris-Nice stage race.