The first half of the 2019 Vuelta a España has been far from boring. Water hazards causing crashes and abandons, sprints split by the narrowest of photo finishes, and a tough GC battle already being played out.
The design of the parcours provided a number of mountain days in week one and allowed us to gain some insight into who is looking likely to mount a serious challenge in the overall classification.
Jumbo-Visma's Primož Roglič then took the race lead after a dominant performance in the stage 10 individual time trial, but the likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are not far off, and will do all they can to overturn their deficit.
Here are how the bookies estimate each rider's chance of claiming the final Grand Tour of the 2019 season.
Primož Roglič was the Vuelta's pre-race favourite at 9/4, and after surviving the climbs of the first week he took revenge on his rivals in the stage 10 time trial, with his odds shortening to 4/9. He now sits 1-52 ahead of Alejandro Valverde, and the next two weeks should see the attacks come thick and fast as others try to dislodge the Slovenian from the race lead.
Miguel Ángel López has worn the red jersey on three separate occasions already this Vuelta, tactically handing it over to breakaway riders whenever the chance presented itself. However, after a crash on the chaotic stage nine the Colombian lost time to his rivals. Luckily, his performance in stage 10's time trial wasn't as disastrous as it could have been, and he sits only 2-11 behind Primož Roglič with a lot of racing still to come. Offered at 3/1 pre-race, López is now only slight longer at 7/2 to take the red jersey to Madrid.
World champion Alejandro Valverde is the closest rider to race leader Primož Roglič, trailing the Jumbo-Visma rider by two minutes. Pre-race, the Movistar rider was valued at 18/1 but now finds his price falling to 9/1. So far this Vuelta he's worked well with team-mate Nairo Quintana, attacking the GC group to test the Slovenian. No doubt this will continue with many more days in the mountains to come.
Meanwhile, Nairo Quintana saw all of his good work on the summit finish on stage nine undone with a miserable time trial performance on stage 10. The Colombian shipped over three minutes to Roglič and fell from the race lead to fourth on GC. His pre-race price was 16/1 but saw that shorten massively after taking the race lead before the first rest day. However, the 29-year-old's odds are now back out at 12/1.
Tadej Pogačar's stage nine victory capped off yet another stand out moment in what has been a breakthrough season for the Slovenian, having already claim victory at the Tour of California and the Volta ao Algarve.
He also performed the best of the rest of the GC contenders, not moving from his fifth place on GC but now sitting within 1-13 of Valverde in second place and only five seconds behind Quintana in fourth. It will take a big effort for the 20-year-old to hold on for another week and a half of gruelling racing in Spain, but his odds of victory have halved from 28/1 at the start of the Vuelta to 14/1.
Outside bets for the red jersey are Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), who sits in seventh on GC, more than five minutes down, and has seen his odds go out from 27/1 to 125/1. Likewise, Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman is now valued at 250/1 and sits in 10th, more than six minutes behind Roglič.
Vuelta a España 2019 odds after one week of racing (Winner – Oddschecker)
Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo Visma – 4/9
Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana – 7/2
Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar – 9/1
Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar – 12/1
Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates - 14/1
Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe - 125/1
Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb - 250/1
Vuelta a España 2019 odds at the start of the race (Winner – Oddschecker)
Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo Visma – 9/4
Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana – 3/1
Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma – 9/1
Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar – 16/1
Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar – 18/1
Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos – 22/1
Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott – 25/1
Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe – 27/1
Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates – 28/1
All odds correction at time of publication
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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