Get your tapas and your Estrella, it’s Vuelta time! Good luck over the next three weeks, no matter who you back!
Red Jersey: Jumbo-Visma were caught out a couple of times in the Giro when Primož Roglic was caught out with a crucial mechanical and a crash but they have left no stone unturned in their bid to give the Slovenian a first Grand Tour and he can win it here. Roglic, a fine fourth in last year’s incredibly strong renewal of the Tour de France, lost no caste in finishing third in this year’s Giro and is ready to take the top step. Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, George Bennett, Tony Martin, Lennard Hofstede, Sepp Kuss, and Neilson Powless ride in support, giving him arguably the strongest team in the race, and the untimely withdrawal of Richard Carapaz has lent him a very big opportunity. Miugel Angel Lopez is the other rider in single figures, and the Colombian has another heavy hitting Astana squad to support him with Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre, Luis León Sánchez, Jakob Fuglsang, Omar Fraile, Dario Cataldo, and Manuele Boaro all in support. His third last year was the effort of a rider who’s very close to winning a grand Tour, but his Giro seventh, without explanation, was disappointing.
There are an almost limitless amount of contenders one could name, and plenty of plans will change in the first week, but Rigoberto Uran could be overpriced. His injury-hit build up could have prevented him from hitting 100% at the Tour and seventh in those circumstances wasn’t a bad effort at all. EF have sent the big guns with Tejay van Garderen, Dani Martinez, Hugh Carthy and Sergio Higuita to support him and 33/1 could look big in week 2.
Advice: 4 pts win Primož Roglic (6/4 Bet365), 1 pt each/way Rigoberto Uran (33/1 Bet365)
King of the Mountains: Thomas de Gendt won this last year and was a creditable 12th in the Tour’s category this year when helping a lot for Tim Wellens. The 6/1 is fair value win only, but this market will surely be turned on its head by any events of the first week, including major contenders potentially missing out, so it looks one to revisit.
Points: A battle between 2018 Giro D’Italia points winner Sam Bennett and the three time points classification winner Alejandro Valverde looks in store. The likely seven sprint finishes on the route probably tip things in favor of the Irishman, who was so impressive in the BinckBank Tour. Fernando Gaviria won two stages at last year’s Tour de France and then the third stage of the Giro D’Italia this year, and if he makes it through the three weeks he could give Bennett plenty to think about on regular occasions.
Advice: 2 pts win Sam Bennett (2/1 Bet365), 1 pt each/way Fernando Gaviria (16/1 Bet365)
Young Rider Classification: It’s win only with Bet365 (boo) and Miguel Angel Lopez should be strong enough to beat Tao Geoghegan Hart and Tadej Pogacar.
Teams: Movistar dominated this last year and appear to be obvious favourites but this is a field stacked with talent on the climbs and they have to be taken on with the two strongest all-round teams, those being Jumbo-Visma and Astana.
Advice: 2 pts win Jumbo-Visma (9/4 Bet365), Astana (12/1 Bet365)