[Article was written before the start of the Tour of the Basque Country and has not been updated.]
Alberto Contador and Sergio Henao have a bone to pick. In last March’ Paris-Nice the Colombian champion took the overall 2 seconds ahead of El Pistolero, while he lost the 2016 Tour of Basque Country 12 seconds down on the Spaniard. Contador bested him in the uphill ITT on the last day with 18 seconds.
With four overall victories Contador and José Antonio González are record holder in the Tour Basque Country. One more win and the 34-year old will be the sole record holder, which must be something the ambitious attacker fancies.
Only one other contender in the 2017 Tour of the Basque Country did win the race before. In 2012, Samuel Sánchez took the GC ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez and Bauke Mollema.
It will be interesting to watch Julian Alaphilippe. In Paris-Nice he was in a class of his own in the punchy uphill time trial to Mont-Brouilly. He went on to race in the yellow jersey for a few days until the route took in a number of long climbs in the high mountains. Fortunately for him there are hardly any long climbs in the Basque Country. Plenty of sharp and steep ascent though, which should suit a puncheur.
Favourites Tour of the Basque Country 2017
*** Alberto Contador, Sergio Henao, Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde
** Romain Bardet, Ion Izagirre, Simon Spilak, Michal Kwiatkowski, Simon Yates
* Rigoberto Uran, Warren Barguil, Primoz Roglic