Vuelta a Espa?a Odds – Can Aru Top Froome and Quintana?
Dave F.No comments
The Giro is the lead-up to the Tour and the top riders usually pick one or the other to race since it’s almost physically impossible to win both these days. (The last person to do so was a drugged-up Marco Pantani in 1998.)
But the Vuelta represents the last hope for riders whose seasons haven’t quite lived up to expectations and often features a number of contenders riding their second Grand Tour of the year. This year’s Vuelta a Espa?a, which begins August 22, will be no different, with Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru, Alejandro Valverde, and Vincenzo Nibali already confirmed for the event.
While not all the contenders have made up their minds, let’s look at the favorites assuming they make it to the start line.
Chris Froome (5/2) – The Kenyan-born and British-raised Sky Team rider won the Tour de France for a second time this year. He has participated in the Vuelta on three occasions finishing second in 2011, fourth in 2012, and second last year. The last rider to win in Paris and Madrid in the same year was Bernard Hinault in 1978. Froome is expected to make his Vuelta decision in the next week or so and seems to be leaning towards riding.
Nairo Quintana (5/2) – The runner-up at this year’s Tour de France is a specialist in mountain stages, and this year’s course is particularly hilly. That said, many experts thought the Tour was set up for him, too, and he was clearly second-best to Froome. A member of the Movistar team, Quintana has raced in the Vuelta twice, finishing 36th in 2012 and being forced to withdraw last year after a crash in the time trial.
Alejandro Valverde (7/2) – The Spanish veteran, and teammate of Quintana, surprised in France, finishing a strong third. Valverde has experienced great success in his home country: he has been in the top-five eight times, including taking the Red Jersey (as the overall winner) in 2009. He has two thirds and a second over the past three years.
Fabio Aru (15/2) – In horse racing, often times the Belmont Stakes winner is a horse who did well in the Kentucky Derby, passed on the Preakness to rest, and is in perfect form for the third leg of the Triple Crown. That’s Aru. In 2014, the Astana rider was third in the Giro, skipped France, and finished fifth in the Vuelta. This year, he was second in Italy (including two stage wins) and again skipped France. Can he better his Vuelta performance? Seems likely.
Vincenzo Nibali (9/1) – Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France winner, struggled early attempting to defend his title, but battled back to finish fourth – albeit a distant fourth. Also a part of team Astana, it will be interesting to see if Nibali, Aru, and Mikel Landa work together for one man’s general classification hopes or if they clash on the course. Astana have the strongest overall team, and Nibali is the most accomplished of the three. He won the Vuelta in 2010 and finished second in 2013.
Betting Play – Froome was dominant in France but it is hard to take short odds on him beating history and winning both races in the same year. Teamwork is a huge part of cycling and Astana has the best overall squad. We’ll assume they know their best bet is fresh legs, and guess that Aru is the pick over the up-and-coming Landa (12/1). In fact, let’s play 85-percent of our bankroll on Aru, and 15-percent on Landa, and cover our tracks with fresh legs from the deepest team.