Eight Predictions for the Vuelta Espana

The Grand Tours keep coming. I can’t remember a season where the gap between the Giro and the Vuelta felt so quick. The Vuelta holds no surprises. The route is spiky and comes to a head in the final week. The field is packed with a mixture of big name GC riders seeking redemption and we’ve even got a top tier sprinter! Here are eight predictions…

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What could happen in the final week?

Simon Yates is absolutely flying. He’s clearly ahead in the GC, and clearly the best climber at this year’s Giro. Whilst he’s dancing a perfect ten, his closest rivals are trudging round the dancefloor at an ugly tempo. Unfortunately for Yates, there’s a time trial to come before three monster mountain stages bring the race to a close. Basically, his two minute advantage provides no real assurances. There’s a time trial tomorrow before we visit Pratonevoso, Finestre, Sestriere, Jafferau, San Pantaleone and Cervinia. Here are a few scenarios that could play out…

Dumoulin Giro

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A Wannabe Walloon

De Brabantse Pijl is cool race. It’s a date to look out for on the calendar and an event I’d one day like to watch live. Starting in Leuven, Brabant, the race is another under the Flanders umbrella. However, it doesn’t feel much like its cobbled siblings – taking place a full 10 days after Ronde – and instead seeks companionship from the upcoming Ardennes week. Brabtanse Pijl is often called a transitional race which allows fans to wave goodbye to the cobbled season and get ready to embrace the hills of Liege.

Sprint Brabantse

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The Best Nibali?

At the end of 2015 I wrote about the struggles of being a Vincenzo Nibali fan. I had watched him become a star, watched him throw a bottle at Chris Froome, watched him catch a ride from his team car to earn disqualification from the Vuelta, and then watched as he claimed an angry Lombardia title. At the time I found myself looking back to his Liquigas days to remind myself why I liked him so much. It’s far easier these days and Nibali’s stunning victory at Milan-Sanremo reminded me that not only is he the best Grand Tour contender of his generation, but he’s also a highly likeable rider.

Nibali Sanremo 2

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Bergen 2017 Men’s Road Race: Best of the Rest

Okay, so what happens if it’s not Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet or Michael Matthews? What happens if Michal Kwiatkowski goes missing or Julian Alaphilippe cracks?

The World Championships attracts anybody with even a whisper of one-day form as well as a whole host of Grand Tour stage winners. We’ve seen aggression in the U23 races with superstar-in-waiting Elena Pirrone going solo in the women’s race and both Benoit Cosnefroy and Lennard Kamna holding their advantage to the end of the men’s. I’m expecting a great race on Sunday and there’s plenty of eye-catchers further now down the list.

Albasini Rain

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Bergen 2017 Men’s Road Race: Slovakia

We’ve never seen a hat-trick of World Championship victories at either the men’s or women’s elite road race. Two-timer Gianni Bugno didn’t ride in 1993, whilst his compatriot Paulo Bettini was unable to complete a hat-trick in 2008 (the jersey did, at least, stay with Italy). On the women’s side of the sport we’ve seen Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos complete doubles in the last ten years. Bronzini was dropped when going for a third straight title whilst Vos jumped early before tiring in a reduced sprint in Ponferrada. This year Peter Sagan is lining up a famous treble and the bookies are saying he’s the most likely winner.

Sagan cool

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