So its been a very successful 2013 for the cycling section of the SBB site. We had the fine outside bet on Stybar just last week. And the grand tours went well with both Nibali and Froome advised as the most likely winners. So with the Tour De France in the back of the mind we look at which riders may well have their best left for this Vuelta. This is probably one of the most interesting races we see all year, plenty testing run ins and some quality spainish riders to excite the race. The race will be worse off for the loss of Euskatel in the peloton as they will fold at the end of the season.
The race opens with a team time trial under the evening sky. This is a flat test with some winds which should reward the well drilled trains with strong riders taking the bigger turns. The only other time trial comes at Stage 11 coming off the rest day. Its 38km so long enough for some notable gaps and also includes a testing climb to even it up a little for the climbers.
Vincenzo Nibali (9/4) was our pick at decent enough odds for this years Giro and he won it with a bit in hand as his two main rivals Wiggins and Hesjedal folded tamely in the end. As I mentioned at the time of tipping him he has a great record and 2013 has been one of his best years. He has voiced some signals that their will not be a repeat of his Giro showing his words “i am only human”. He still went well at Burgos a good 3rd in a race won by Quintana. His 4th in the final stage played a key part in him being on the podium. He was much quieter in Poland that was no harm since he had not raced since his win in May. One thing is for sure Astana have sent a really strong squad here to do something.
Joaquim Rodriguez (3/1) The home favourite and surely his chances of a Grand tour win are quickly running out. He added to his list of Grand Tour podiums with a good 3rd week in France earning him the 3rd spot in Paris. It seems like Rodriguez has had a quiet season but once again he has being going about his business and ranks 2nd to Froome in the CQ rankings over the last 12 months. Last year he had one hand on the Vuelta only for a medium testing day coming off the rest day catching him out. Why he hasn’t had a race outing since the Tour is another matter however. He rode both Burgos and San Sebastian to warm up for the Vuelta last year. However its highly likely he comes good in week 3 as a result of this approach. Moreno again will be by his side to provide key support on mountain days.
Alejandro Valverde (9/2) A unlucky puncture on a day of cross winds meant we never fully saw how good Valverde might have been for this years Tour. However for a Vuelta bid it also means he is likely to be rested enough to give his 2nd Grand Tour of the year a good go. He pipped Rodriguez to 2nd spot in this last year so the battle between the two will again be interesting. Despite his bad luck in this years Tour he still managed a strong 8th place riding in support of Quintana for the second half. He failed to top 3 in any stage so will need to change that here. He was a good 2nd in San Sebastian to the talented Gallopin beating home strong Tour performer Kreuziger.
Sergio Henao (13/1) The Sky man will be keenly support here he played 2nd fiddle to Uran in Italy but it should be the reverse here. With any sort of a showing in the Vuelta it should be the best season for Henao as a pro. He had a good 5th in Poland which was his last race before this. He was an off the pace 16th for the Vuelta earlier in year but lost time early working for Wiggins and then supported Uran. The lay out could well suit. Carlos Betancur (18/1) Another talented Columbian in cycling. A brilliant signing by Ag2r who has more than filled the boots of Roche. In just his 2nd Grand Tour he took 5th in the overall. After a busy early season he has not been seen racing since May. Its difficult then to place faith in him being prefect for this.
Ivan Basso 20/1 missed the Giro after an injury ruled him out. Not getting any younger and talents have seemed in decline the past year. Samuel Sanchez 20/1 Leads a strong Euskatel team that will fold at the end of the season. However his form has been a mixed bag this season and how much of his talent remains is questionable. He may well find 3 weeks too much for him these days. Rigoberto Uran 25/1 Price seems skimpy considering his confirmed move to OPQS, Sky have him instructed to ride in aid of Henao. Roman Kreuziger 50/1 Rafal Majka 66/1 looks like he may well be the Saxo choice from team leader. Daniel Martin 80/1 Daniel Moreno 80/1 Michele Scarponi 80/1 David Arroyo 80/1 looks great value to do well here. He had a notable 2nd to Quintana at Burgos and is been talked up as the man to do Spain proud this year.
.5pts Joaquim Rodriguez 3/1 various
.1pt Rafal Majka 66/1 bet365
.25pts David Arroyo 80/1 paddy power