A quick and dirty guide to the Vuelta this year, which I’ll be covering mainly through Twitter and this blog. Get in touch if you want me to do anything for you!
To sum up, Lopez has a huge chance with this being the principal aim for him since the Giro. The price is gone now but he’s still the top pick. Simon Yates won’t be overaggressive riding to try and put a buffer between himself and a top time trialist so is a worthy favourite whilst George Bennett and Thibaut Pinot are simply too big for riders of their quality.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Miguel Angel Lopez (11/2 Betfair, Paddy Power), 1 pt each/way George Bennett (33/1 general), 1 pt each/way Thibaut Pinot (25/1 general)
There aren’t enough guaranteed sprint finishes for a sprinter and the potential for Peter Sagan to take stages and then leave could scupper things for the fast men. In any case, Elia Viviani is short despite being the quickest man and Mateo Trentin will be eyeing up stages.
Simon Yates was third in this at the Giro when he took all before him and he’s probably the quickest of the climbers’ bar Valverde when it comes to uphill finishes, plus there’s the potential for him to win summit stages as well. Michal Kwiatkowski is going for stages and can take any sort of finish, so 30/1 seemed massive.
Mountains: There aren’t double points for stage winners like at the Tour, so it will be hard for a GC rider to take it (and if you think they will, then you should be backing them for the points jersey). A breakaway artist looks the best option so Thomas de Gendt is an obvious one. He won the KOM jersey at Paris-Nice, should be on the attack through the race, and is sure to have it as a key aim (along with stage wins).
Have a look at Alexandre Geniez as well. The Frenchman was 11th in the Giro but fourth in this competition two years ago and is in a team that is not built around Romain Bardet but will be looking to attack early. The mountains jersey could be a natural fit for the AG2R rider and 50/1 looks big for a rider of his ability.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Thomas De Gendt (14/1 general), 1 pt each/way Alexandre Geniez (50/1 general)
Team: Obviously Movistar come here with three realistic chances for the overall including Nairo Quintana but they do look short at 4/6 and there’s realistic opposition. Bora’s trip of Buchmann, Fomolo and Majka could push them close and there are some interesting quotes around.
Bahrain-Merida have the Izaguirre brothers along with Vincenzo Nibali and whilst the latter is training for Innsbruck the brothers were in good form at the Tour and were a little unlucky not to win a stage there. They could do well by going for overall or stage glory which would give them a chance. It’s worth noting that EF here have Daniel Moreno, Rigoberto Uran, Michael Woods and Pierre Rolland – with big stage hunting potential should Uran and Woods not be at their peak. Having four climbers should be a big advantage when it comes to the stages with the biggest gaps and that makes them interesting at 12/1.
Astana were second in the team classification at the Giro in support of Lopez and there’s no reason they can’t go well once again with a super strong mountain team and stage hunters in the shape of riders like Omar Fraile and Davide Villella too. The 12/1 on them is interesting and worth a speculative punt.
Advice: 1 pt Astana (12/1 general), 1 pt EF Education First (12/1 general)
Stage 1: Rohan Dennis is surely too strong and the usual suspects should be chasing him home. One for small stakes punting at large prices.