After a disappointing Giro D'Italia early on in the season, an incredible Tour de France in the middle, Team Sky look set to finish off the season with what I expect to be a massively disappointing Vuelta a Espana.
Sky are not sending any of their top riders to this years Vuelta, unlike last year when they sent Chris Froome, although he was played by the Spanish riders just like the year before when Froome and Bradley Wiggins got second and third respectively.
There are no great riders in this year's Vuelta team, spearheaded by Colombian Sergio Henao, and whilst he got his first top-10 finish on a Grand Tour this year at the Giro, he is certainly not one of the best in the world at the moment, and not one of the best at the Vuelta either. In fact, fellow countryman Rigerberto Uran poses a greater threat to the general classification than Henao does in my eyes.
What makes me question how well Henao and Uran will do, is the quality of some other riders competing this year. For example, Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali is taking part, as is Joaquim Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Bauke Mollema. These riders have all shone in their careers so far, Mollema causing problems on a few stages at the Tour this year and their is a chance he could do very well at the Vuelta. Nibali did not ride the Tour this year so will be fresher than others with less riding in his legs.
One thing I have a feeling Sky might do alright with though is the sprinters jersey. There is no Marcel Kittel, Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel or Peter Sagan at the Vuelta this year. This could come down to the lack of stages for pure sprinters, instead, there are more hilly stages that have potential to come down to a sprint with those who are quick but can climb as well.
Sky have Edvald Boassen Hagen going and chances are he is likely to rival John Degenkolb for the few hilly/flat stages there are on this years Tour. But it's not exactly a world class battle between the best sprinters in the world is it?
As already mentioned, there is one man who looks head and shoulders above the rest, Vincenzo Nibali. Should he complete the Giro and Vuelta double it would cap off a memorable year for him, and it doesn't look to bad on the CV either does it? This man is probably the reason why Sky will not win the Vuelta this year, in fact, it isn't just Sky who won't win.. It's every other team as well.
Below are my predictions for the jerseys:
General Classification: Vincenzo Nibali
Young Rider: Bauke Mollema
Sprinters Jersey: John Degenkolb
King of the Mountains: Alejandro Valverde
Do you have any thoughts on the Vuelta this year? Comment below!
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