How the Bookies See it:
|Top 3 Finish||
- Chris Froome powered his way to a fourth Tour de France yellow jersey last month after finishing 54 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Rigoberto Uran. Froome has not yet managed to back up French success with victory in Spain, but has finished as runner-up on three occasions and last year came second behind Colombian climber Nairo Quintana.
- Vincenzo Nibali chose to skip this year’s Tour de France and focus all his efforts on the Vuelta a España. Having spent time training in the Dolomites, he proved he was coming nicely to the boil with a ninth-placed finish at the Tour de Pologne on his return to racing. The Italian won the Vuelta back in 2010 and is a two-time Giro d’Italia champion.
- Spaniard Alberto Contador has won the Vuelta a España in three of the four years he has participated, in 2008, 2012 and 2014, but came a disappointing fourth last year. He finished ninth in the Tour de France and promptly announced that the Vuelta would be his final race before retirement.
Contador has had a glittering career and will be determined to bring the curtain down in style with a fourth victory at his home Grand Tour. Trek-Segafredo’s line-up should afford him plenty of support in the mountains, with expert climbers such as Jarlinson Pantano, but a punt on Contador would most likely be dictated by the heart rather than the head as the 34-year-old has been this year’s nearly man and is yet to win a major race in 2017.
Nibali has only won the Tour of Croatia in 2017 but has been building his preparations specifically for the Vuelta and he will be backed by an experienced team at Bahrain-Merida. He looks well suited to the demanding route and odds of 8/11 on a top-three finish look well worth taking, even if an outright victory will be tough.
Froome is bidding to become the first man to complete a Tour de France/Vuelta a España double in more than 20 years and cannot be counted out with Team Sky, but he did not quite look at his imperious best in France and the odds are not too attractive for him to pull off what would be a remarkable achievement. It may therefore be a better idea to look further down the list of favourites, and Astana’s Fabio Aru - champion in 2015 - can be backed at 4/1 just to finish in the top three.
Sports.net’s top tip:
Fabio Aru to finish in the top three
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.