[Underneath article was written prior to the start of La Vuelta and has not be updated since.]
The strongest riders in the Tour de France usually don’t come out on top in the Vuelta a España. This should come as no surprise, after all there are only a few weeks in between both races. Moreover, 2016 is an Olympic year and the chase for gold was played out two weeks before the start of the Vuelta a España.
In advance, it’s safe to say the riders who have skipped the Tour de France (or abandoned in the first week) have an advantage over those who did compete in La Grande Boucle. Last year Aru powered to the win in La Vuelta, Alberto Contador was strongest in 2014 and 2012, while Chris Horner was victorious in 2013. Contador crashed out of the 2014 Tour de France in stage 10, while the other recent winners didn’t start in the July showdown at all. In 2016, El Pistolero once again crashed out in the first week in France.
Riders who showed good form during the early season enjoy an advantage. Think the likes of Steven Kruijswijk and Esteban Chaves, who were both close to winning the Giro d’Italia, while Contador took the Tour of th Basque Country. Last year Aru took the Vuelta a España after finishing in second in the Giro d’Italia.
22-year old Colombian Miguel Angél López is a rider to watch. The 2016 Vuelta is his first Grand Tour, while he showed his potential by winning the Tour de Suisse in June.
It will be interesting to watch Nairo Quintana. The Colombian was a pale shadow of his best self in the Tour de France, albeit he did finish on the podium. Thereupon he skipped the Summer Olympics to prepare for the Vuelta a España.
Favourites La Vuelta a España 2016
*** Alberto Contador, Esteban Chaves, Steven Kruijswijk
** Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Miguel Angél López
* Robert Gesink, Andrew Talansky, Warren Barguil, Tejay van Garderen
Vuelta a España 2016: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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