Vuelta 2018: Preview

vincenzo nibali - Vuelta 2018: PreviewLa Vuelta is the most mountainous Grand Tour. Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Simon Yates, Fabio Aru, Steven Kruijswijk, Miguel Ángel López, Thibaut Pinot - they are all eyeing up an overall victory. Check out our preview. (Slideshow route/profile)

On Saturday, August 25th, the 2018 La Vuelta a España, starts in Málaga in the deep south of Spain. As in previous years, the line-up consists of 22 teams, but as of this edition the peloton is reduced to 176 riders since the teams will field eight riders instead of nine. The Vuelta’s start list features riders who didn’t fair quite so well in the Tour de France due to crashes or bad shape(Porte, Nibali, Uran, Quintana and Zakarin) and others who target the Spanish Grand Tour after they rode the Giro d’Italia (S. Yates, Pinot, Ángel López, Aru).

Pure sprinters are hard to find in Spain, which makes sense with nine summit finishes. World Champion Sagan is the major contender for the flat(ter) stages, possibly along with Elia Viviani and Danny van Poppel. A host of breakaway specialists will be aiming for the stages that suit their specific talents.

Last year, Chris Froome won the Vuelta, but he skips the race as he already did the Giro/Tour double. Other former winners are Quintana, Nibali, Aru and Valverde. Possibly, the Colombian is favourite to turn out on top in the 2018 Vuelta. He won the short and mountainous Tour de France race to the Col du Portet before he suffered a crash on the following day, which led him to drop off the pace on the early slopes of the Col d’Aubisque in the Queen Stage. Porte is another likely victor. The Tasmanian was on a winning streak after he wrapped up the GC at the Tour de Suisse, but his Tour de France dream ended with a broken collarbone. And let’s not forget Simon Yates’ Giro campaign. The 25-year old Briton rode thirteen days in the maglia rosa and pocketed three stages wins before he cracked in the final week. But he is back on his feet and determined to show the world that he is ready to win again.

Nibali has a question mark hovering over his head. The Sicilian had two major objectives in 2018 – the Tour de France and the Worlds. He crashed out of the first race with a fractured vertebra and so there is one goal left. He claims to start in Spain to prepare for the road race in Innsbruck, but he surely won’t mind winning La Vuelta. But is he capable? Apart from his injury, his performances in stage races haven’t been too promising in 2018.

Other major GC contenders are Martin (Daniel), Kruijswijk and Kelderman. The last finished fourth in last year’s Vuelta and has only recently returned from injury, so it remains to be seen whether he is a legitimate contender. Adam Yates will ride La Vuelta on domestique duty for his twin brother Simon, while Zakarin could be somewhat of a dark horse. The Russian – who finished third in last year’s Vuelta – didn’t fair well this season, but bounced back in the Tour de France’s last week by entering the top 10. For further information, please take a look at the actual Vuelta betting odds as given by 888sport.

Vuelta a España 2018: Route map, height profiles, and more

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