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Who Will Win The Vuelta a España?

The hardest race to predict given the deep field with varied motivations, ambitions and pressures and the Vuelta is all the better for it as it promises surprises along the way.

Route Recap
There are many summit finishes, it depends where you draw the line between a steep hill and mountain climb and then more mountain stages with a descent to the finish. The variety and regularity of mountain stages and just one medium length time trial make this a route for the climbers but the fear is the early mountain stages set the tone for the rest of the race; last year’s stages saw the scenery change but the story remained the same. There are time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds at the finish line and 3-2-1 at the intermediate sprints.

There are few races in the run-up to help gauge form, several of the contenders have not raced since the Tour de France. Additionally motivation levels range from desperation to indifference and for some the Vuelta is a training race for the Worlds or base-building for 2016.

Chris Froome is the prime pick. Second last year on the comeback after a broken wrist, now he doesn’t have to face Alberto Contador. He won the Tour de France and now finds a route to suit with a time trial on a course he’d have designed. There are still big question marks, first doing the Tour-Vuelta doble is a big ask. He didn’t finish the Tour with thoughts of the Vuelta, preferring the lucrative criterium circuit although he was reported to be riding for four hours before one event, proof he’s not been slacking and he’s been spotted training in the hills behind Nice too. Second Sky don’t approach the Vuelta like they do the Tour, stage recons are rare. His tilt at the Vuelta comes with a strong team with Geraint Thomas replacing Richie Porte as his Sancho Panza and out-of-contract Sergio Henao looking strong in the recent Tour of Poland with Nieve, Kiriyienka and Roche in support in the mountains too.

Nairo Quintana is next. The Colombian was getting better and better in the third week of the Tour de France and can match Froome on the climbs but you’d expect him to lose in the time trial stage. Expect is the word because, like Froome he’s not raced since the Tour and we have little to judge his form on too. He’s racing with Movistar in what they describe as “our race” and Alejandro Valverde is another excellent pick. While Quintana’s participation wasn’t certain, Valverde always knew he’d be riding and probably went into Vuelta mode the day after Paris. But can he win? He’s been on the Vuelta podium since 2012 but has yet to take a grand tour post his Puerto ban so the podium looks a safer pick. But this has been satisfying with his Tour podium, will this boost him or cost him? He proved loyal to Quintana and Movistar have an excellent chance here, especially with a strong team to help.

Astana bring three leaders. If Fabio Aru is the future of Italian cycling he needs to switch to the present tense soon. Fifth here last year he’s improved so should be able to hold his own if the field has improved too. He’s also one of the few riders to have been targeting this race for months with altitude training camps as opposed to the “we might as well ride” approach of others so if you value freshness, he’s your pick. It must be hard for Vincenzo Nibali to look Fabio Aru without seeing himself as a younger rider with time and promise on his side. Today Nibali maybe famous and earning millions but burdened this. He’s riding out of duty, responsibility and on a salvage operation after a season that’s not worked, an Italian champion’s jersey and one Tour stage win are not what Astana pay him for and this kind of negative pressure can’t help. Still the course suits him including some downhill finishes. Mikel Landa could be the most exciting to watch but he’s not looked in sizzling form, when he won the Giro he was ablaze in the warm-up Giro del Trentino but in the recent Vuelta a Burgos his results were modest and with a juicy contract with Team Sky we can question is motivation but really ask about Astana’s desire to support a rider who is leaving, perhaps he’ll just try to repay the team that rescued him after Euskaltel vanished. All are helped by a strong team with Luis Leon Sanchez, Diego Rosa and Dario Cataldo, a Sky-like policy of hiring helpers who could lead on another team.

Talking of budgets, BMC Racing have a big one but not many GC contenders which explains their mid-season move for Richie Porte. Tejay van Garderen wasn’t supposed to ride but his Tour de France exit forced a diary change. If this was bad for him it still meant he started planning for this race long before some of his rivals so he’s had time to rebuilt and get over the disappointment of July. Yet at the same time his Tour exit came late in the race so he’s hardly Señor Fresh either. The American will look to the time trial to avenge any losses in the mountains but if he can hang on some mountain stages it’s hard to see him doing it every day, you suspect they’ll be a day when things come unstuck. Darwin Atapuma brings options for the mountains while Samuel Sanchez was supposed to be the team leader until TvG changed plans but it’s hard to see the 37 year old winning much, especially as he’s going to be on team duty now.

Joaquim Rodriguez leads Katusha. He took two stage wins in the Tour de France but was reduced to stage winning raids after losing a lot of time. He’s a podium contender here but the time trial looks awkward for him. He’s might have lost Giampaulo Caruso but he’s got support from body-double Dani Moreno who has one stages in the past, looked scintillating in the recent Vuelta a Burgos and could sit well in the top-10 through teamwork.

Domenico Pozzovivo is another rider who has been aiming this race for a long time after his gory Giro exit. He’s a capable Giro and Vuelta rider and exciting to watch too who says he wants a top-5 result, a legitimate aim if the form is right, all we have to go on is a solid Tour de l’Ain where he helped engineer a win for team mate Latour.

Rafał Majka leads Tinkoff-Saxo and the Bison of Zegartowice can climb and time trial. After riding in service of Alberto Contador this is his last chance to make amends with stage race leadership this year after a disappointing early season where he was given opportunities but didn’t take them, for example in Paris-Nice. Peter Sagan’s presence on the team is probably a good idea as rather than hogging resources it takes pressure off with the Slovak expected to perform.

Lotto-Soudal’s Jurgen van den Broeck, the peloton’s master of hiding in plain sight, returns to racing. As ever he can finish high but rarely wins. He’s the epitome of a diesel engine and the Vuelta’s steep slopes are likely to prove too much but he needs something to secure a contract. Bart de Clercq could be a darker horse but he’d sign for a stage and the top-10.

It’s not just Astana who bring three leaders as Cannondale-Garmin have Joe Dombrowski, Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin. Talansky’s had a disappointing season and is part of those looking for redemption in Spain. Meanwhile Dombrowski is in ascending form after a win in Utah so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do. Martin is good for a stage win or more but consistency in a grand tour seems to be a problem. Overall the team seems to show the pressure they’ve been riding like Frenchmen with premature attacks that waste energy.

Anyone else? Pierre Rolland will look to repeat his 2014 Giro where he finished fourth oerall with some mountain raids but is his head ready for it? Trek Factory Racing bring Haimar Zubeldia and Fränk Schleck. If things go well Lampre-Merida’s Przemysław Niemiec can take a stage and crack the top-10. MTN-Qhubeka haven’t told us who will be sponsoring the team in 2016 but they’ve re-signed Louis Meintjes and he will look for a mountain stage. Team Colombia’s Rodolfo Torres looks their best. Orica-Greenedge have Esteban Chaves for the mountains and FDJ’s Kenny Elissonde won atop the Angliru in 2013. Cofidis’s Dani Navarro climbs well too.

Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde
Fabio Aru, Joaquim Rodriguez
Tejay van Garderen, Vincenzo Nibali
Domenico Pozzovivo, Dani Moreno, Mikel Landa, Sergio Henao

Comment: Nobody gets five chainrings. Chris Froome might be the prime pick but he’s not the certainty he was before the Tour de France. He’s got July in his legs to account for and a mixed month of criteriums since. The same for Nairo Quintana but he could lose a minute in the time trial to Froome. Fabio Aru is the fresh pick and we’ll see what he can do in the first week before fatigue starts to set in and the time trial looms.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Special Eyes Thursday, 20 August 2015, 8:27 pm

    I have just seen the twitter comments from some riders about the TTT course that Sam alluded to this morning.
    It’s like a municipal ‘Crazy Golf’ course on Southport sea front !
    All that’s missing is an arch in a windmill to cycle through.

    On a slightly more serious note, there’s a vast armada of Spaniards and Columbians in wait for Froome.
    More Alpe D’Huez conspiracies ahead ?

    • Anonymous Friday, 21 August 2015, 12:18 pm

      Always spoken about: never happens.
      The question is will Movistar throw away another great chance for Quintana this season by riding for the inferior Valverde.

    • bmj Friday, 21 August 2015, 12:54 pm

      Apparently the TTT will still happen, but the times will not count toward the GC.

  • adam Thursday, 20 August 2015, 8:52 pm

    On Valverde, ‘but has yet to take a grand tour so the podium looks a safer pick.’ He did win the 2009 Vuelta.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 20 August 2015, 9:20 pm

      Hard to forget that race, not sure why I did. Think I was thinking after his ban.

      • BenW Friday, 21 August 2015, 1:21 pm

        Most people do, not just you. Pre-Tour, All the talk was of how many Grand Tour winners were racing but most write-ups I read ignored Valverde and Hesjedal. Despite the latter not really contending as such, it still got missed…

  • OJT Thursday, 20 August 2015, 8:55 pm

    Great appetiser. In the chainring summary, I’d swap Aru and Valv. Finishing second in the Giro is better Vuelta preparation than third in the Tour: freshness is vital, plus Aru is slightly better suited to this terrain than Evergreen Alejandro. Can’t wait for the racing.

  • Jonhard Thursday, 20 August 2015, 10:55 pm

    The Bison of Zegartowice indeed.

    Aru must be closest to Senor Fresh among serious contenders?

    I enjoyed this edition, thanks INRNG.

  • The Real Jhutch Thursday, 20 August 2015, 11:21 pm

    I love the tour, and have done since the day Robert Millar won the polkadot jersey in 1984….but over the last few years the veulta has been the race that has given me the most excitement and I really belive it will again this year. Personally I’d love to see vasili kiriyienka win a stage, he’s such a great rider with such beautiful style on a bike. As for the overall win who know but out of all the picks I don’t believe Froome would be there unless he felt he could win…if his legs agree remains to be seen.

  • Joe K. Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:10 am

    Yes, also agree that the Vuelta is more entertaining and enjoyable over the past few years with more challenging parcours. Ever since Horner won, the Vuelta has become more interesting. Plus its the last grand tour of the season, so need to savour the last bite.^.^

    • gabriele Friday, 21 August 2015, 4:49 pm

      The courses have been getting generally worse since ASO took over (when compared with the editions right before that, not with some sad, nearly amateurish editions we had in a not-that-distant past) and I consider this year’s to be especially disappointing.
      *The Krisis* [à la irungo txuletak 🙂 ] is also to be blamed, with a good deal of political influences now determining which regions and cities are being touched. Thus, you spend a lot of time going round and round in the same place, then you speed away and concentrate on another “rincón” [corner] of the country. But, okay, that’s – mainly – aesthetics.
      From a technical POV, we’ve got a lot of carbon copy stages – notably, nothing relevant until a final short and steep climb.
      No real Queen Stage: 138 climb-loaded kms will possibly be fun, but that’s more of the same tapas riding: we should have some sort of… *main course* for fondo-riders, too.
      Apart that peculiar Andorran stage, more similar to a “marcha” or cycloturistic Granfondo (it’s the same course of the newborn “Purito, I think), we’ve got very few stages with big climbs linked in some kind of sequence, most of the climbs are separated by at least 20-30 kms (but the distance is really some 50 kms more often than not).
      The whole course lacks some sort of well-devised structure. I got aware of that when I tried, as I tend to do with every GT before they start, to memorise the full course. Despite a good knowledge of Spanish geography (which helps a lot), I found out that the task, this year, was harder than usual. I started blaming my memory but, hey, I didn’t have the same troubles with the Tour a couple of months ago 😛
      The course isn’t everything, but it’s very easy to forget that, all in all, it determines what kind of “test” the riders undergo, and what kind of pressure the rivals can apply to the leader. It’s not less fundamental than surface in tennis, so to say ^___^

      All that said, I really appreciate Froome’s decision to take part: it’s quite logical, since, as inrng said, it’s sort of the course he himself (or Brailsford, for him) would draw to maximise his winning chances. If the Tour was not-extremely yet notably unfavourable, this is pretty near to hugely favourable… hey, you have like only *one* mountain stage after the second rest day, and it isn’t even a summit finish o__O (maybe the only thing to make it better would have been placing the ITT during the first or second week?). Even so, it’s never easy to keep up the fighting spirit after an hard – albeit not hard-fought – Tour, not to speak of the physical strain. Hats off.
      It must be said that most plausible rivals will be in his same condition – easier for them not to relax, but way more pressure to endure, and, for sure, most of them didn’t pass through the Tour with unscathed morale (except Valverde…). However, Froome is committing in an interesting challenge without needing to, and as a fan I appreciate. Luck has provided a favourable context, but it was up to him grab it, with the efforts and risks that come along.

      Quite obviously, the human factor is what makes this edition interesting. Not just Froome, but Valverde, Quintana, Tejay, Purito etc.
      I’ll be especially interested in Astana’s strategies. What will Landa do? Will the voices about his character prove true? The course is on paper very good for Aru (who has been meanwhile diagnosed coealiac disease) and *very* bad for Nibali… how will they play their cards? As a team or as individuals? Or even as rivals? Aru should be way fresher, even if also the Giro – and such a Giro – may take a toll months later (he isn’t probably as fresh as whoever didn’t ride a whole GT this year). Nibali came out of the Tour with a splendid form. Too late a form, I’d say… will it prove useful here? Even if in the first half of the race (to the first rest day) there’s just one stage more or less suited to him, and some three GC defining stages which should be quite troublesome for his qualities?

      • J Evans Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:07 pm

        Massively interesting comment, as ever, Gabriele. I would say I can’t believe you memorise the route… but I can.
        I agree about the route: the Vuelta has been using the ‘one steep hill at the end’ stage far too many times in recent years. Unlike most, I don’t find it that fascinating: more variety would be better, with – as you say – some stages with mutiple ascents/descents.
        Aru having coealiac disease could be career-threatening – I’d read nothing about this.
        One question: why do you think the course is very bad for Nibali – because he’s better suited to multiple climbs in a stage rather than short, sharp bursts up one climb?
        Oh, and what do ‘the voices’ say about Landa’s character? Haven’t heard anything about this.

        • gabriele Saturday, 22 August 2015, 2:39 am

          About Aru… he has been diagnosed with “intolleranza al glutine”. The news was in an interview on an Italian specialised magazine, Bicisport. It was paper-only, but you can see some reference to it if you look for “Aru glutine” on Google, you can see the photo of the first pages of the article on the publisher’s website (compagniaeditoriale).
          About Landa… I’m speaking of the interview released to the Italian website Cicloweb by Martinelli last autumn, which I quoted several times during the Giro. Looks like the guy doesn’t like to work too hard, taking advantage of his natural talent. I said “voices” because we didn’t get any other version besides Martinelli’s. Landa stepped up for the Giro (maybe because his contract was running out…?), it’s to be seen if he’ll keep the right mood through the Vuelta, too. There could be good reasons to defend one possibility… or the opposite.
          About Nibali… he’s got a fine climbing progression but he’s not not very explosive nor has he ever been. Even in the Classics, he tends to make the difference in easier sections *after* the steep part of a climb, with sustained power.
          Unluckily for him, stage 2, 6 and 9 present a final climb of about 3kms, preceeded by little altitude gain (2 and 9 aren’t very long, either). The shorter and easier a stage, the bigger the difference a more explosive rider can produce in a short span of time when compared with riders whose main characteristic is “not losing” so much power through large efforts (Nibali’s performances both in the Dauphinée and in the Tour, this year, are quite interesting in that sense). If he’s in great form he may obviate this physiological tendency thanks to his better timing and tactical intuition, that is, what makes him a better one-day racer than most of his rivals – but it’s far from granted, especially because, without the previous difficulties of a typical one-day race, the other guys will be supported towards the finish by strong teammates eventually shutting up the race to a final powermeter showdown.

          • gabriele Saturday, 22 August 2015, 2:44 am

            PS Yes, J Evans, about Nibali I was meaning more or less what you commented… I thought I had written it down, but re-reading my older post I noticed that I didn’t make it explicit 😉

          • irungo txuletak Saturday, 22 August 2015, 10:34 am

            Thanks for the ref on “krisis”…
            About Mikel Landa, on top of what “voices” said about how hard he works on his shape, I have the feeling (but no proof – just a feeling based on what I hear and see from him in interviews and races) that this guy has difficulties to manage himself under pressure.
            He also has weird reactions – as for instance when he left his cap on on Giro’s podium.

          • J Evans Saturday, 22 August 2015, 1:17 pm

            Thanks. That’s going to be tough for Aru – an Italian cyclist who can’t eat pasta.

          • Eskorrik Asko Saturday, 22 August 2015, 3:01 pm

            A diagnose of coeliac disease doesn’t necessarily mean anything more serious than a strict life-long adeherence to a gluten-free diet. It is fortunately rather rare that there has been irreparable damage in a patient as young as Aru. It should be a relief for him that an explanation – and a de facto cure – has been found for the stomach ailments that deprived him of his peak performance at crucial moments in stage races.

            BTW the easy part is avoiding pasta, bread, cakes and porridge made of wheat, barley or rye. After a short while you don’t really miss them, but there are passable substitute products, even gluten-free pasta from Barilla. The difficult part is that there is added gluten everywhere in food products and that the employees in cafes and restaurants are usually ignorant about gluten in the food they serve.

          • J Evans Saturday, 22 August 2015, 3:12 pm

            Eskorrik Asko, don’t I know it. Restaurants are a total pain – hope he likes Indian and Thai.

          • gabriele Saturday, 22 August 2015, 4:11 pm

            @irungo txuletak
            I’ve just read some declarations from Zanini (Astana DS) on a local newspaper saying that Landa is considered by the team as a third captain, yet a little step below the other two captains because he isn’t used to the pressure which comes along with being the designated team leader (people taking for granted that Froome would have easily won the Tour 2012 should meditate on this, too).

          • Special Eyes Saturday, 22 August 2015, 5:39 pm

            Very interesting info on Aru, thanks guys.
            A bit of a problem for him carb-loading, no ?

  • Anonymous Friday, 21 August 2015, 5:41 am

    Inrng! Thank you thank you thank you!! Oh thank you thank you thank you!!!! Let me just say much I… Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  • Xcelerator Friday, 21 August 2015, 8:17 am

    “Chris Froome might be the prime pick but he’s not the certainty he was before the Tour de France.”

    Not sure Froome was a “certainty” before the TdF. It was much hyped as the closest Tour for years with 4 big favourites. Of course it didn’t quite turn out that way.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 21 August 2015, 9:12 am

      He was the first pick and the bookmakers had him at evens too.

  • noel Friday, 21 August 2015, 9:41 am

    away from the favourites… would have been interesting to see how Carthy would have coped… he’s looking pretty good in Colorado right now.

    • One Man Grupetto Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:00 am

      I agree that he’s been excellent this year and in Colorado but still maybe a but young for the attrition of Grand Tour. He’s got a contract into next year with Caja Rural so wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the target for him next season.

  • Neil Friday, 21 August 2015, 9:56 am

    How do we think Sagan will do?

    • BenW Friday, 21 August 2015, 1:25 pm

      Couple of wins and lesser publications bemoaning lack of strength-in-depth of the field, saying the Tour was better, is my expectation.

  • Anonymous Friday, 21 August 2015, 10:18 am

    Can’t see Froome winning this, I expect a Vuelta similar to 2012, when he was super strong at the Tour but faded at the Vuelta. Still wouldnt be surprised to see a surprise winner a la Horner or Cobo.

  • Jonhard Friday, 21 August 2015, 10:25 am

    Not quite that surprising I hope.

  • Dr Manhattan Friday, 21 August 2015, 10:44 am

    Stellar line-up “on paper”, but who has the Vuelta down as a target, as opposed to a consolation prize? More than the usual suspects slugging it out for GC, I am looking forward to see what new talent may break through. Might get excited about GC if Pozzovivo is up there, though…

    • Souln Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:21 am

      +1 fingers crossed for Pozzovivo

  • Sammysosa Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:35 am

    You know who the last Vuelta winner was who rode (and finished) the Tour de France?

    Mensjov, in 2005. Mensjov finished 85th in the Tour de France that year. The last Vuelta winner finishing in top 10 in that year’s TdF? Heras in 2000. Just saying. Well, not just saying, I don’t believe in the chances of Froome for one bit. There’s only four weeks between the end of TdF, where Froome was definitely weakening, and the start of the Vuelta. Too short to get back in shape, but just short enough to stay in shape. That’s why I do believe in the chances of Quintana who only became better as the TdF progressed.

    But for me the biggest favorites are the ‘fresher’ riders, Aru, Henao and Pozzovivo. With Quintana the four potential winners for me.

    • Vedrafjord Friday, 21 August 2015, 12:50 pm

      It’s hard to tell because usually the winner of the Tour didn’t bother doing the Vuelta. Carlos Sastre came third in the Vuelta in 2008 after winning the Tour. He came also second in 2007 after coming third in the Tour.

      The big difference this year though is that three of the ‘big four’, plus Valverde, are doing the Vuelta after the Tour, and there’s a big gap in quality between them and the next best GT riders. Guys have come from nowhere in the Vuelta before, but I’d be surprised if the winner came from outside Froome/Quintana/Valverde/Nibali.

  • irungo txuletak Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:40 am

    Valverde managed to make great Tour and then great Vuelta last year. He might be a good podium pick, maybe a little short to win. Curious to see how the race will be with Quintana in the same team. Valverde is not known to be particularly team player.
    Regarding Astana, they also have various potential leader. Difficult to know how they will manage this. I though Landa was promised the lead after sacrifying 2nd place in the Giro, but I am not sure he is in sufficient shape to actually take it.
    Froome is obviously one of the best pick, but as far as I am concerned, I see him more as a “peak” rider, and I am not sure he is able to get a sufficient level when past his peak (looked tired in the end of the TOur). And I don’t see him winning à la Kontador neither, when not being the strongest of the pack.
    The route does not help TJ. Too explosive climbs, I can see him outclimb the rest on this kind of terrain.
    I would be happy to see Purito winning this -I think he really deserve a GT win- but I think that we saw in the Tour that he is now getting a little old to play it 3 weeks long.

    Conclusion: result is very hard to predict, all favourites have major interrogation marks.

    • BenW Friday, 21 August 2015, 1:29 pm

      Contador.

      • Richard S Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:02 pm

        I assume Kontador is the Basque spelling, but seen as ol Bertie aint Basque it’s not relevant.

        • Eskorrik Asko Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:10 pm

          It may not be relevant, but it’s always fun to k the piss out of Castilians.

          • Pierre-Jean Saturday, 22 August 2015, 11:05 am

            Les Basques espagnols ne cherchent qu’à se souligner en tant que Basques, à tout-va. Ennuyeux.

  • Paul Friday, 21 August 2015, 12:11 pm

    I am really looking forward to seeing how the Fabu, Nibali and Landa mix will play out.

    Love the Tour love the Giro Love the Vuelta, cant wait for the fireworks to begin

    Thanks Inring

  • Anonymous Friday, 21 August 2015, 12:43 pm

    Valverde with the same number of chain rings as Froome and Quintana? Highly doubtful that he can win.
    From the start of the season it was clear that Movistar should have had Quintana as their sole focus in the Tour and Valverde only doing the Vuelta – then, Valverde might have had a chance of winning something (Rodriguez should have done the same thing). And Movistar wouldn’t have scuppered Quintana’s prospects in the Tour.
    Movistar’s tactics and decision-making have been woeful – bowing to Valverde’s wishes to achieve yet another podium. (Can’t understand why he would rate that either – wouldn’t you rather try to win the Vuelta?)

    • 741 Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:39 pm

      This was me – didn’t mean to be anonymous.

  • Richard S Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:08 pm

    I would love Purito to win but I think his GC contending days may have passed unfortunately. Still, you never know. He didn’t feature in the Alps much at the Tour and may well have just been ‘base building’ in prep for the Vuelta. Of the big GC men I think Quintana is most likely to win, I think Froome was fading towards the end of the Tour and hasn’t had quality prep since due to the Criterium circus.
    How about a surprise win from Landa who scandalously ignores Astana team orders to leave Aru and Nibali floundering in the mountains? That would be good!

    I would have liked to have seen Cavendish involved. He had an average spring and an average Tour and should be at the Vuelta for some quality racing and wins rather than his usual stockpile of minor stage races.

    • Sam Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:22 pm

      Why no Cav? A few reasons…

      Mrs Cav had number 2 on Sun – I doubt the plan was ever for him to then be gone for 3 weeks.

      He’s riding a track meet in Germany next week to try to pick up the additional UCI points he needs to be able to ride Track World Cups Nov-Jan – which in turn would make him eligible for selection for GB Track team for Rio

      He wants to go well in the Worlds RR – ToB has proved good enough prep for him in the past e.g. 2011

      Its going to be stupidly hot – he’s not always at his best dealing with extreme heat (see 2011)

      Even less than normal opportunities for the sprinters at this year’s race

      • 741 Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:36 pm

        Mrs Cav’s lavatorial habits are no-one’s business but her own.

        • Anonymous Friday, 21 August 2015, 3:34 pm

          Oh well played 741, well played!

          • TheDude Saturday, 22 August 2015, 4:58 pm

            Who does Number 2 work for? 🙂

    • 741 Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:35 pm

      Incomprehensible to me why Froome would do the criteriums, rather than focus everything on trying to win a historic double. He doesn’t need the money – why the lack of ambition to be one of the greatest?
      But yes, I also think Quintana is the favourite.

      • Sam Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:48 pm

        Money is very important to Froome, by all accounts. Not sure he’ll ever pass up the opportunity to get paid a shedload of notes to do all those crits.

      • ccotenj Friday, 21 August 2015, 5:45 pm

        there is no such thing as “too much money”…

        plus, it isn’t like he is compensated like a “top athlete in a major sport”…

        you can’t eat “history”…

        • 741 Friday, 21 August 2015, 11:11 pm

          He must earn millions a year – ergo, he has enough money. (And certainly enough for food.)

      • Vitus Sunday, 23 August 2015, 4:13 am

        If you’re not the most beloved rider in the peloton, you better do the crits and don’t act like a spoiled arrogant prat, only showing up in GT races. Fans just want to see the famous riders close.

  • Kevin Smith Friday, 21 August 2015, 2:43 pm

    I really enjoyed last year’s Vuelta and hopefully the 2015 edition will match it.

    Very difficult to predict a winner I think as Le Tour looked very hard this year with a lot of tired bodies so would have to fancy one of the Giro riders to do well. Aru gets my vote.

  • KB Friday, 21 August 2015, 8:23 pm

    If you think Jurgen van den Broeck and Haimar Zubeldia are wearing invisibility cloaks, try spotting Maxim Montfort! If you can’t find him on the road, you will in the top 15 in the GC 😉

    • Irungo txuletak Sunday, 23 August 2015, 10:08 am

      There was some clash btw between monfort and the walloon tv commentator. The latter was putting the former as an example of invisible never doing anything rider, all this live in a tour stage. Monfort answered via letter to a walloon newspaper.

  • gaby Friday, 21 August 2015, 8:29 pm

    I thing that Aru will win, he have the chance to make another step , a big step forward . Maybe Quintana will be second and Valverde evergreen will be in my opinion out off top 5. I am curios about Purito, I see him on podium.