Cycling

Froome, Quintana, Nibali - Who will win the 2015 Vuelta a Espana?

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The last grand tour of the year looks to be one of the most hotly anticipated and competitive in years. The Vuelta a Espana was first organised in 1935 after the success of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

Since then it has become one of the most prestigious races in world cycling setting off in the seaside resort of Marbella before heading up through the Pyrenees mountain range and finishing up in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

We run down the favourites for this years title including Tour de France winner and the hottest property in world cycling, Chris Froome.

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Contenders

The notorious trek through the Pyrenees will invariably separate the best from the rest. A strong ride through the mountains will therefore be required for any competitors with their eyes on the main prize.

Chris Froome (GB, Team Sky) was the strongest man through the Alps in July, with a stunning victory at the summit finish of La Pierre Saint-Martin to separate himself from his rivals. However, his conditioning will have allowed him to have been in peak condition for the Tour and as a consequence his legs may fail him when it comes to racing the Vuelta.

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Froome will be the first Tour de France winner to ride the Vuelta in the same year since Carlos Sastre in 2008, and will be hoping to become the first rider since Italian Giovanni Battaglin in 1981 to win both titles. 

Closest rival Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, Astana) had a torrid time of it in France finishing off the podium but will be hoping his reserves of energy will stand him in good steed come the Pyrenees.

An elite rider, Nibali will be the only competitor in the field to have won the triple crown of cycling (Giro, Tour and Vuelta) with national hero, Alberto Contador having to cut short his 2015 season through illness. Nibali did end up fourth on the Tour de France, catching up on the latter mountain stages and will be hoping to carry this form into the Vuelta where he stands as the pre-race favourite. 

The Nine summit finishes through the Pyrenees are also likely to suit Nairo Quintana (Columbia, Movistar), one of the best young riders in world cycling at the moment.

His performance on the Tour would have given Chris Froome many a sleepless night, however Quitana lacks the experience of preparing for two grand tours in one season and will also having to battle inner-team tensions with likely team leader, the more experienced Allejandro Valverde (Spain, Movistar

Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain, Katusha) will be carrying national hopes and pride on their shoulders on the race with the two Spaniard's the only men in the field likely to claim a home victory.

Tejay van Garderen (USA, BMC) will hoping to carry on his Tour de France form - cruelly cut short on stage 17 by illness- into the Vuelta along with young guns Fabio Aru (Italy, Astana) and Mikel Landa (Spain, Astana) who both enjoyed podium finishes in this seasons Giro d'Italia. 

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Topics:
Cycling
Giro d'Italia
Vincenzo Nibali
Tour De France
Vuelta a Espana

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