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Who is favourite for the Vuelta a Espana and who should you be backing?

Joe Robinson
23 Aug 2019

The favourites for the Vuelta a Espana and the best prices from the bookmakers

The 74th Vuelta a Espana begins on Saturday 24th August as three weeks of racing around Spain commences to find the next winner of the famous red jersey.

Keeping up appearances, this year’s race will be a brutal mix of high-altitude climbs, relentlessly steep gradients and pounding heat that often gives young General Classification riders and eternal nearly-men the chance to shine.

Lancastrian Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott is current champion although absent in the defence of his title. Three back-to-back Grand Tours seem to have taken their toll on the Brit who has opted for some well-earned rest.

Last year’s second-place finished Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will also be taking a rain check after racing the Tour de France in July, meaning the only present rider from last year’s podium will be Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez of Astana.

Chris Froome’s serious injury sustained at the Criterium du Dauphine has robbed him of his usual Vuelta appearance while Geraint Thomas is looking ahead to next month’s World Championships rather than the race for red.

This has led to a fairly open race for the overall Vuelta title that will likely see a new champion declared King of Spain and even a first-time Grand Tour winner.

Below Cyclist assesses those who are favourites to win the race and where you could earn yourself a quid or two.

Spanish eyes on the prize

The bookies have bashed their collective heads together and decided that the mixture of a team time trial, individual time trial and plenty of rest since the Giro d’Italia will see former ski jumper (didn’t you know?) Primoz Roglic take his first Grand Tour victory racing around Spain.

Makes sense, too, considering the Jumbo-Visma team in support. Tour de France podium finisher Steven Kruijswijk along qwith George Bennett, Robert Gesink and Tony Martin. That’s pretty formidable.

You can get the Slovenian at 15/8 (Paddy Power and Sky Sports).

If Roglic fails, the Jumbo bees have Kruijswijk as a reliable Plan B which accounts for his 12/1 price (Ladbrokes), although this is a price worth ignoring.

South Americans are having good fun at the Grand Tours this year with Colombia’s Egan Bernal winning the Tour de France and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz taking the Giro d’Italia.

It looks as if the Latin domination could continue at the Vuelta, too, with the likes of Miguel Angel Lopez, Nairo Quintana and Giro winner Carapaz all confirmed to be riding.

Lopez has the shortest price with the bookies at 3/1 (Ladbrokes) which is relatively short considering he is yet to win a Grand Tour and has serious pitfalls in his time trialling ability.

His Astana team are formidable, however, and the relatively low key GC start list could present Superman Lopez’s best opportunity to date, although not one for anybody looking to get rich off of bike racing.

Carapaz sprung a surprise at the Giro in May and the bookies are not willing to let that happen to them again hence his 10/3 (Paddy Power) pricing which makes him third favourite.

He rode ok at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, but not great, and with it heavily rumoured that the Ecuadorian will be off to Team Ineos in the winter, a question could hang over his motivation.

He will also be hampered by Movistar’s tactics of racing with three team leaders.

Carapaz will be flanked by two former Vuelta champions, current World Champion Alejandro Valverde at 18/1 (Bet365) and fellow South American Quintana at 20/1 (Sky Bet).

Realistically it’s unlikely that any of these will win but an each-way bet on either Quintana or Valverde is not the worst idea.

The third and final former champion lining up in Torrevieja on Saturday is Fabio Aru.

The long-lost twin of Labour MP Ed Milliband, Aru is on a long road of recovery since surgery earlier in the season which will certainly affect the Italian’s chances of GC aspirations, which is reflected in his 80/1 price (William Hill).

The better bet among the UAE-Team Emirates clan is Tadej Podcar. The Slovenian is one for the future but may spring a surprise or two racing around Spain in September. Catch him at 30/1 (Betfair) for a best price that could favour the brave.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Rafal Majka is 33/1 (Betway) which is not to be sniffed at for a former podium finisher, especially considering the relatively weak GC line-up.

Another price worth considering is 44/1 (William Hill) for Rigoberto Uran. The Education First leader has podiumed at all Grand Tours except the Vuelta.

If this is the year the Colombian completes his set of bridesmaid titles, the high pricing could be something you should take advantage of.

Team Ineos will have its line led by Dutch super-domestique Wout Poels and Hackney lad Tao Geoghegan Hart. Both are priced at 35/1 with Paddy Power and Bet Victor, respectively, and are decent tips if you fancy supporting your home team.

Cyclist takes no responsibility for bets placed or resulting losses. Always remember to gamble responsibly. When the fun stops, stop.

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