With the year’s third and final Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, just around the corner why not get in early and make things interesting with a bet?
Defending champion Chris Froome will miss the race after conquering the Giro d’Italia and taking third place behind winner Geraint Thomas and second place Tom Dumoulin at the Tour de France, so a new winner is guaranteed in Spain in September.
Here we’ll look at who could contend for the win and their chances as rated by the bookmakers.
Odds take from Oddschecker and correct at time of writing.
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) – 3/1
Richie Porte is down with the bookies as the outright favourite for the Vuelta a España overall title, despite having never won a Grand Tour and having not finished one since 2016. His shortest odds are 5/2 but you can get him at 3/1 from some bookmakers.
The Australian crashed out of the Tour de France on stage nine to Roubaix with a broken collarbone, and may have fancied his chances against the liked of Froome, Thomas and Dumoulin after some fine form this season saw him win the Tour de Suisse overall back in June.
By far the best time triallist among the GC contenders, Porte will be favourite to make significant gains in the 32km time trial on stage 16.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) – 100/30
Yates will relish the nine summit finishes dotted through the Vuelta course, which is why the bookies are widely rating him as second favourite just behind Porte, with shortest odds of 11/4. You can get him longest at 100/30 at Betway.
The 26-year-old has drastically improved his time trialling in recent seasons, even retaining the overall lead in a similar length time trial at the Giro.
Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) – 7/1 and 11/1
The Movistar pair are backed as third and fourth favourites respectively, with both Quintana and Valverde former overall winners of the race in 2016 and 2009.
With the Spanish team’s third leader Mikel Landa out with injury, they’ll be hoping their longer serving GC men can pull off a victory, or at least a performance, that eluded them in the Tour in July.
Both are experienced Grand Tour riders and will provide a particular danger considering they’re one of few teams with two potential winners.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) – 12/1
After taking third place overall at the Giro, Colombian Lopez will be hoping to deliver a maiden Grand Tour victory in a race which saw him perform well last year, taking eighth overall while grabbing two impressive stage wins in the mountains.
Lopez is not a fan of a time trial, but the lack of a Froome or Dumoulin kind of contender could lessen the impact of stage 16, making ‘Superman’ Lopez a decent bet for the podium with shortest odds of 9/1 and longest of 12/1.
Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) – 20/1
After a disastrous Giro, Aru has had a slow reintroduction to racing at the Tour de Wallonie and the Tour of Poland ahead of the Vuelta.
The winner of the 2015 edition, the Italian has yet to match that result in any Grand Tour, and has struggled to live up to expectation in recent events.
He’ll be hoping for a change of fortunes, and at 20/1 is surely worth a punt. He’ll also have Dan Martin alongside him in the UAE team, with the Irishman way out at 66/1 for the overall after fighting for the GC at the Tour in July.
Others to consider
There’s a huge number of possible winners at this year’s Vuelta, with some riders however indicating that they may not be looking at a GC challenge thanks to recent struggles.
One of those riders is Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who fractured his vertebra in a crash at the Tour de France and has said he may not challenge for the GC in Spain, but look for stages. The bookies have clearly taken note, and put the Italian former winner anywhere between 20/1 and 40/1. You can bizarrely even get Mikel Landa, confirmed to miss the race with injury, at 30/1 with some bookmakers.
Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) is at 20/1 best odds having abandoned the Tour in July, with Dutchman Wilco Kelderman behind him at 33/1.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) returns to Grand Tour racing with odds of 35/1, with other outside bets Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Team Sky’s leader David de la Cruz at 40/1, and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and New Zealand’s George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) at 50/1.
Bennett’s team-mate Steven Kruijswijk, fifth at the Tour de France, is counted as a long shot at 80/1 best odds, along with Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).