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…
The best race you (might) not have been watching returns on Thursday, for ‘just’ its 98th edition. The first race was actually held in 1876 which means it’s older than Swan Lake, Tomato Ketchup and even the Gramophone. Some sources state the modern bicycle wasn’t even invented until 1885 – what were the ten original starters even using?
Move over Vincenzo Nibali there’s a new threat to Chris Froome. Miguel Angel ‘Superman’ Lopez is also challenging ‘The Shark’ to the most popular nickname in pro cycling. His performances this past week have certainly showcased his superstar potential and you’ll see plenty of superman references floating around Twitter. The origin of his nickname is a little less fun. Swarmed by knife-wielding thieves on a training ride in Colombia, Lopez fended offer any threat and, presumably, saved his much-loved bike. It’s no wonder he’s so cool in the face of the Vuelta’s most daunting summit finishes.
The Netherlands’ Eneco Tour attracts a unique selection of riders and, despite being a week long race, there is often no real stage racer in sight. The list of winners, including Erik Dekker, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Zdenek Stybar, is a curious selection and the route tends towards a collection of mini-classics, quite unlike any other race currently on the World Tour. This year’s route was a unique a blend as ever and grew lumpy as it built towards its finale. The Liege-Bastogne-Liege inspired Stage 6 ultimately decided the race but rolling terrain could be found throughout and there was plenty of opportunities for time gaps. A traditional flat opening also attracted a multitude of sprinters and this year the race welcomed names such as Andre Greipel, Giacomo Nizzolo and Sasha Modolo. There was a whole host of others too and Trek Factory Racing brought a super selection of sprinters in addition Nizzolo, a risk that ultimately didn’t pay off.