[Underneath was written prior to the start of the Tour of the Basque Country.]
In theory, Alberto Contador is the big favourite to win the overall. Perfect climber and a good time trialist. Those are important factors as the Tour of the Basque Country concludes with an individual time trial in stage 6. Powerhouses like Aru, Quintana and Rodriguez are all lesser time trialists.
All in all, the race is not just a climber’s party, as most stages end with a drop while underway a multitude of peaks lay waiting.
Tim Wellens could be a serious dark horse. The 24-year old Belgian has some impressive victories under his belt and he is both strong in the chronorace and on steep climbs. Last two edition he took the Eneco Tour by outperforming competition in the Ardennes. In a way the climbs in his home country and the Basque Country are similar: short and steep.
The start list boasts four ex-winners. Samuel Sánchez (2012), Nairo Quintana (2013), Alberto Contador (2014) and Joaquim Rodriguez (2015) know what it’s like to win the Tour of the Basque Country.
Favourites Tour of the Basque Country 2016:
*** Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru, Tim Wellens
** Joaquim Rodriguez, Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa, Bauke Mollema
* Robert Gesink, Warren Barguil, Sergio Henao, Adam Yates