Vuelta A Espana 2014 Cycling Preview
Lets get this show on the road
Vuelta A Espana 2014 Route Profile
So onto the last Grand Tour of the year this weekend and its been hugely successful year on the cycling betting front here on the blog so lets hope Vuelta A Espana 2014 will be the same. So we get 21 stages of racing over the next 3 weeks. This years race is heavily raced in North West Spain and away from the Pyreenes and the East Coast, while the south also sees quiet a bit of racing. We open with a team time trial just like we have in the Giro. It covers 12.6km on a very flat profile. A good power time trial so expect the teams with stand out men to do well. Late roundabouts may cause some bother.
Stage 2 looks like a sprinters day, perhaps wind could cause issues. Stage 3 interesting quiet a bit of climbing in the middle of the stage with a short uphill sprint to finish it off, could see surprise winner with any time gaps very small. Depending on who lead from the time trial we could see a change from this stage. Stage 4 features more climbs to frustrate sprinters who might struggle to make a suitable finish. The finish is very scenic and it will be interesting to see who can grab a stage win.
Stage 5 features a late climb to test the legs before going over the top for a shallow down hill to the finish. Should be a quiet day or will we be surprised. Stage 6 is first big day in the mountains as they come from sea level to past 1,000m. Final climb is over 4km long and with a flat spot it is well over its 10% gradient for the most part. Expect those not with it to lose notable time. Stage 7 might just be seen as too much for the sprints and a chance for a break with very medium terrain and a not too difficult finish.
Stage 8 is a 200km test but one that the sprinters should be looking forward to. This is a day for the sprinters as we see the race move North from after this day. Stage 9 is in complete contrast to that. An 8km final climb at 6-7% will test the riders. With climbing before hand to sap the legs it should get pretty interesting. Stage 10 comes off the rest day, and to make sure the riders have to come out firing a 36.7km will test the legs. It starts up hill but from the top of the climb it is quick and downhill expect some seriously quick times on this one. Pushing a massive gear will be the key here and so expect a specialist to come good.
Stage 11 is another testing day for riders. The day that comes closest to entering the Basque country so expect the final climb to be absolute nuts on this day. Its a long enough climb and at over 7% it should create a few gaps. After 11 stages we should really see the GC taking shape and know who is here on holiday or for fun and who is dead serious. Stage 12 is a strange circuit race we have seen before that looks more suited to smaller races than a Vuelta Grand Tour. Stage 13 is interesting at it looks quiet straight forward till the end. And that finish might just mean that the climbs before do break it up as the sprinters will not have ambitions to hang on. The finish should be a cracker a short steep climb just out from the finish could really make this interesting.
Stage 14 features two cat 1 climbs but with a huge flat valley between climbs meaning really the final climb will be all that troubles the pack. The final climb is over 8km at 7.5% and should again make things very interesting with teams likely still strong in numbers at its base. Stage 15 has a major climb to finish for the end of week 2. It is 12.2km at 7.2% but it is a climb that varies in its gradient. It has two short down hills and the finish is really steep for a short late kick at nearly 20%. Stage 16 gives us a serious climbing day. This is a real proper mountain day were we could even see some men crack before the final climb. Expect anyone who hopes to do well in this Giro to be visible here. Climbs of 10km 8.8%, 10.1km 8.5% and 16.5km at 6.2% to finish off. Final climb has some flat spots so is just as difficult due to its length.
Stage 17 comes off the rest day and will relent unlike the the last rest day time trial. Should interest the sprinter and some hopeful break away riders. Stage 18 has a long run till it hits the climbs of the day. The two climbs do have some step parts but not been super long that could actually play to the hands of a break. Stage 19 is a strange one with very little likely to happen a day for a break again perhaps. A prefect stage for off rest day is used with just 3 stages left. Stage 20 of course will be our last day in the mountains. The final climb is 12.7km at 8.7% and should provide a real stern test for the riders and move the GC about a little. Stage 21 will be a time trial rather than the procession sprint we sometimes get although I think for the Tour it works just fine. A short 9.7km time trial shouldn’t change much but it should be a great spectacle and one last effort for the riders. No Madrid this year for the Vuelta A Espana 2014.
Vuelta A Espana 2014 The Riders
First off the blocks is the news this morning that defending champion Horner will not take the start line for medical reasons in line with MPCC policy a pity in what would be his last hurrah as each year catches up on him. Conti replaces him now. With Horner out prehaps we can turn to Niemiec who had an upsetting set back to cost him a Giro chance while Anacona looked super strong when supporting Horner over in the USA. Niemiec was 15th 2years back in the Vuelta so he has raced these roads. Cunego was 19th in this years Giro but with his contract up Lampre seem to be placing faith elsewhere. Anacona is still young and this will be his 4th Grand Tour. His 3rd in Utah was a sign of how he riders at his best. Anacona has had a light enough season so should be just fine for 3 weeks here. Niemiec comes off 5th in Poland and this blog fancied he would go well in the Giro but a crash put pay to those chances.
Ag2r doesn’t look quiet as strong as it seeks its 3rd team victory in grand tours this year. Betancur has had major weight issues this season and has spent lots of time back home and not racing as Ag2r had wished. Dupont has been quiet results wise since his 16th in this years Giro, he was 17th in this race back in 2011 and seems to grind out 3 week racing well. Bouet had his best grand tour result in the Vuelta with a 20th but Dupont should be ahead of him. Nocentini has had quiet enough season and this will be his first grand tour of the season. He did well here in 2012 but does seems less of a rider these days for the Vuelta A Espana 2014.
Astana will be coming off a high from a hugely successful tour but also the shadow of the criminal investigation into Vino and his race buying activities during his career. Fabio Aru the 2nd best rider from Italys south comes in with likely team leader duties. Kangert should provide some valuable support. Aru was pretty quiet in Poland as he seemed to take a back seat, it was his first racing since his impressive ride to 3rd in the Giro. His really light schedule should mean a 2nd peak is very achievable for him in this Vuelta. Kangert was 20th in the Tour but should still have the legs to offer much needed help to Aru. Landa is another strong rider and the man I expect to be up there each and every day with Aru till late on.
With Belkin looking like having a future for next season contracts should start being tied up and riders will be keen to impress here. Belkin has left very little at home here with three big hitters on the start list. Keldermann raced to 5th in Utah, he has had a superb season with a strong 7th in the Tour he is a rider who looks after himself and finds it easy to hold his form. Ten Dam rode to a superb 9th in the Tour but surely is left a little light to repeat that here against much fresher riders. Gesink returns from his heart troubles that derailed his season to race this Vuelta. A quiet 8th in Poland will have pleased him haven not finished a race since April. He had started the season so well and is so capable that he could well end up leading Belkin here.
BMC are strong handed here. Sanchez gets the leaders number but has a strong support cast with both Dennis signed from Garmin and Evans in the line up. Sanchez showed life in Poland and should not get the support of Evans for help in the Giro early in the season. Evans is hard to judge he nailed two stage wins in Utah and was 8th in the Giro. Its been a while since he last raced this back in 2009 he doesn’t really seem to do well doubling up grand tours like this but he could surprise us. Sammy has 3 grand tour podiums and did manage 8th last season despite been a little under par but a much strong field lines up for this one.
Caja Rural will be looking to get noticed as always as this is the jewel in there season. No surprise that both LL Sanchez and Arroyo will line up for this. Txurruka also provides strong Vuelta experience for those two riders, normally finishing his races in mid field. Sanchez has mixed fortunes really in his form the Tour of Turkey been a prime example of a race he was expected to push for victory in. If anything Arroyo looks the better candidate based on his 10th in Burgos were he went on the attack. A poor time trial cost him a higher place so that might cost him again here.
Cannondale riding its last Grand Tour as a team in its current form sends new Tinoff signing Peter Sagan and he should have plenty to interest him here. Can either Bennett or Caruso take a chance to impress here? Caruso has secured a future with BMC but Bennett is still finding a team for next season. Bennett had a solid 9th in Utah but hasn’t built on a good Trentino result. Caruso didn’t get close in Poland but was 3rd in Austria. He had a top 20 in last years Vuelta and can improve on that. Cofidis will have both Coppel and Navarro as cards to play. Coppel has a 13th in the Tour but perhaps Navarro can take after leaving the Tour early.
Europcar seem to be without a stand out leader Sicard hasn’t really grown into a rider capable of a top 10. Apart from him its hard to see the stand out overall candidate. FDJ have Pinot but he rode a stunning Tour and maybe it will be Ellisonde time to shine. Ellisonde has a stage win in last years Vuelta and this year in Oman looked top notch something like that would be most welcome. Garmin will have Talansky but he is likely to be taking a back seat here. Hesjedal and Martin should lead the line here. Hesjedal is a past Giro winner but has been a little in decline since. 9th in this years Giro shows he still has heart. Martin is less consistent in grand tours can he pull out big results to improve on his 13th here a best.
Giant have stage winner Barguil to lead out the team after last years good Vuelta A Espana 2014. He has had mixed results this season with nothing to stand out. He is needing a step up to make it here. Craddock joins him and is good here too and will hope he can get back to form like his 3rd in California to perform here. IAM have no really stand out leader Tschopp he was 9th in Oman but since hasn’t really not pushed on or kept it up. He has 15th and a 12th in the Giro over past two years.
Katusha will lead with Rodriguez who is still trying find his best racing after a torrid year. His 3rd in San Sebastian showed he might be getting back to his best after a Tour to ride himself to form. Moreno tends to have bad days which cost his grand tour hopes but he pushed Quintana in Burgos which impressed many. His best results have been in the Vuelta 3 top 10s show its his best race. Trofimov had a strong Tour but should ride in support here. Caruso should provide more strong support in a jam packed team of talent for this race.
Lotto will be lead by Van Den Broeck here who has had few set backs himself this year. He has twice been 4th in the Tour but this year found he couldn’t quiet match that level with a 13th in the end. Another 3 weeks might be too much for him however. The last time he raced both these he didnt deliver in the Vuelta. Movistar gave Valverde the number 1 bid but no doubt we know who is the real number 1 here with the Giro winner Quintana. The support cast is strong and he could well be a man to match the feat of Contador. MTN debut on the grand tour scene and lead with Pardilla the prefect choice who comes off a 5th in Burgos. He has had a solid season and with this a main target should be primed. Improving on 18th in the Giro 2 years ago will be his aim.
OPQS have sent a strong support cast here with Giro 2nd Uran. He has raced just once since the Giro but is a rider who knows how to look after himself and training back home has never been an issue for one of the most disciplined guys in cycling. Uran now with OPQS should get a much better chance to back up a Giro 2nd in a way he didn’t the year before. I expect he comes out firing once again. Orica likely won’t be worried about the overall but both Chaves and Yates are top talents and will be looking for stage wins.
Moving onto Sky who will be focused around the Tour winner 2013 Froome who should be well over his war wounds from this July. He trains so damn hard and is so focused and lets not forget he nearly won a Vuelta from leading Wiggins around Spain. The support cast is sickly good. He has bested Quintana before in the mountains but also knows the time trial gives him an extra edge over his main rival. Tinkoff come with Contador after lots of will he won’t he. His team is nowhere near what it was for the Tour so I am expecting if he does do well it will be after a week of getting himself back into racing. His Tour injuries were much more serious and took more time to heal and will have affected his form no doubt. A twice Vuelta winner it is always silly to write him off. Trek have two machines for the time trial but also options of Zubeldia and Arrendondo for the mountains.
Vuelta A Espana 2014 Bets:
I will go just a pt for now but looking at Froome in the time trial today will tell me a lot about him he has the beating of Quintana and he withdrew from the Tour with an awkward injury rather than an awful one. Both Aru and Uran are 33/1 with the books but go bigger and go betfair and grab both guys for a trade. Uran can be got at 44-48 while Aru is as big as 70 on the exchanges for the Overall winner
1.5pt Chris Froome 15/8 betvic
2pts Uran top 10 4/5 hills
2pts Fabio Aru top 10 evens paddys
At big odds Pardilla perhaps at 10/1 could interest some in his home race for MTN. Anacona at 25/1 is much too big also given his recent form. Froome 4/11 with skybet for top 10 may look very silly a few days in.
.75pts Niemiec top 10 11/5 skybet
For the KOM jersey which is always a tricky one I am going play Arrendondo but given so many key mountains finish stages it could well go to the race winner.
.2pts Julien Arredondo 18/1 betvictor
.2pts Chris Froome 8/1 betvictor
The points winner is always tricky at the Vuelta given the course and the fact so many riders will pull out early citing tiredness or a focus on the worlds. For that reason Sagan is 8/1 given he already has a Tour done this season. The team competition looks a better target with Belkin a stand out given they have no issues having multiple strong men and the team looks just that. Katusha also look strong handed and another team that tends to give this a focus as the 3rd rider can be so key.
.5pts Belkin 6/1 ladbrokes
.25pts Katusha 8/1 boylesports
Vuelta A Espana Match Bet:
2pts Froome to beat Quintana 6/4 paddys
2.5pts pts Niemiec to beat Martin 11/8 sportingbet
2.5pts Pardilla to beat Barguil 7/4 paddys
3pts Evans to beat Ten Dam 11/10 ladbrokes
5pts Winner Anacona to beat Serpa 1.63 pinnacle
2pts Ellissonde to beat Chaves 2.45 pinnacle
Gesink to beat Van Den Broeck 4/6 paddys, hills