[Text was written before the start of La Vuelta 2015 and hasn’t been edited since.]
Last year, the Colombian crashed out of the Vuelta of 2014, so he could not live up to the high expectations. In recent Tour de France, he was runner-up after winner Froome. In the final week in the Alps Quintana outperformed the Briton, and it will be an eternal question whether he could could have threatened Froome if he had attacked before. The multitude of uphill finishes in the Vuelta are to his advantage, however, the flat 39 kilometres ITT Burgos definitely is not.
In 2015 Quintana won the Tirreno-Adriatico, besting Nibali and Contador.
How well did he recover after the Tour de France? Same question of course for Valverde, Nibali and Quintana. Yet, the latter two were stronger in the final week in France while the Briton lost time. The Burgos ITT suits him just fine and he likes to race in Spain, despite never winning the Vuelta. In 2011 and 2014 he finished second, in 2012 fourth.
Before winning the Tour de France, Froome outclassed his competition in the Ruta del Sol (besting Contador) and Critérium du Dauphiné (besting Van Garderen).
Former winner of all Grand Tours, but recently his big goal for 2015, the Tour de France, turned out to be a disappointment. In the final week he repaired the damage done, by winning a stage and finishing fourth. No results as of yet in 2015, the Vuelta is Nibali’s last chance to mend his season.
The Astana-brigade is strong, with Nibali backed-up by Aru and Landa. But it could turn out to be as weakness as well. Who is going to do the dirty work?
In his own country, the 25-year-old Italian is seen as a future winner of the Grand Tours. In the Giro he was doing well and he finished second behind Contador, at the the same time Aru was plagued by moments of weakness. Last year, the combination Giro/Vuelta worked out well, as he won two stages in Spain while finishing fifth in the overall.
Tejay van Garderen
In 2015, the American is stronger than ever. In the Critérium du Dauphiné he was the only rider able to threaten Froome, but eventually he had to bow down, partly because the Sky-squad was super-strong. In the Tour de France Van Garderen had to abandon due to illness in the final week, while he was third in the overall. A podium spot would have been in his grasp, one might argue.
Outsiders: Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa, Rafal Majka, Joaquim Rodriguez and Domenico Pozzovivo.
Vuelta 2015: Route, profiles and more
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