What is probably the third ranking “Grand Tour” after Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta began with Team Time Trials today. This is a three week race with more climbs and mountain top finishes than either of the other two.
Two years ago Chris Froome was second and Bradley Wiggins third and last year Chris Froome just missed the podium in fourth place. It looks as though the main contenders will be Sicilian, Vicenzo Nibali, winner of this year’s Giro and Spanish pair Joaquin Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, with Sergio Henea the Columbian from Team Sky as an outside bet.
Last year the race was between Rodriguez, Valverdi, Froome, and the eventual winner Alberto Contador. Rodriguez uncharacteristically missed a break by Contador in the middle of a stage and this gave Contador enough time on him to hold him off until the end. Rodriguez, whose explosive climbing was a revelation, and Valverdi joined Contador on the podium.
Last year’s race was riveting, but Chris Froome had had a very exacting Tour de France a few weeks before the Vuelta and this, plus phenominal Spanish support for the three Spaniards eventually told on his performance.
Highlights can be seen on ITV4 at 10pm tonight and then at 7pm from tomorrow. Don’t miss it!