Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana & other favourites
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 19/08/16 9:56am
Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador will resume their rivalry at the Vuelta a Espana over the next three weeks.
But they aren't the only riders hoping to challenge for the red jersey, because a host of other climbers could be in contention
Here, we pick out 10 candidates for the podium…
Age: 31. Nationality: British. Team: Team Sky. Sky Bet odds: 3/1.
Froome is looking to become only the second rider in history to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same season, but it remains be seen what form he is in having already ridden the Tour, Olympic road race and Olympic time trial in a taxing summer. It could be that he starts slow and grows stronger as the race wears on, as he did last year before crashing out. Either way, the course suits him and he should be there or thereabouts.
Age: 26. Nationality: Colombian. Team: Movistar. Sky Bet odds: 3/1.
Quintana goes into the Vuelta looking to make amends for an underwhelming Tour de France in which he finished third but performed well below his best. He didn't make the trip to the Olympics so has had four weeks to re-group and fine-tune his form. The steep climbs of the Vuelta should suit him well and he will also have the backing of a strong Movistar team.
Age: 33. Nationality: Spanish. Team: Tinkoff. Sky Bet odds: 9/4.
Contador quit the Tour early with impact injuries sustained in a couple of crashes and so should be a lot fresher than both Froome and Quintana. He has already won the Vuelta three times, the latest in 2014, so the race suits him perfectly.
Age: 26. Nationality: Colombian. Team: Orica-BikeExchange. Sky Bet odds: 13/2.
Chaves finished sixth at last year's Vuelta and then improved to finish second at May's Giro d'Italia, so it appears a Grand Tour victory could be just around the corner. His tiny frame should enable him to thrive on the race's steep climbs, but whether he can stay on top form for 21 stages remains to be seen.
Age: 29. Nationality: Dutch. Team: LottoNL-Jumbo. Sky Bet odds: 14/1.
Kruijswijk looked on course to win this year's Giro but then suffered a heavy crash on stage 19 and ended up finishing fourth. Prior to the crash he had look imperious on both the climbs and time trials, and if he can replicate that form at the Vuelta, he could give Froome, Quintana and Contador a major headache.
Age: 36. Nationality: Spanish. Team: Movistar. Sky Bet odds: 22/1.
Valverde will start the Vuelta as chief domestique to Quintana, but such is his quality and consistency, he is a good bet for a top-five finish and could even push for a place on the podium. The steep climbs suit him perfectly, but having already ridden the Giro and Tour this year, there is a chance fatigue could catch up with him.
Age: 24. Nationality: British. Team: Orica-BikeExchange.
Similar to Valverde, Yates will start the Vuelta as a support rider to Chaves but is a good enough climber to challenge for a place in the top 10 overall. His twin brother, Adam, caused a major surprise by finishing fourth at the Tour and Simon is in the same class, so expect to see him competing with Froome, Quintana and co on the climbs.
Age: 24. Nationality: South African. Team: Lampre-Merida.
Meintjes performed brilliantly to finish eighth at this year's Tour and now heads to the Vuelta aiming for an even better result. He is a tiny, pure climber and should be able to handle the race's steep gradients, and he has also shown he can keep his form over three weeks. The big question is how he handles back-to-back Grand Tours.
TEJAY VAN GARDEREN
Age: 28. Nationality: American. Team: BMC RACING. Sky Bet odds: 50/1.
Van Garderen finished only 29th at the Tour after a dreadful display and heads to the Vuelta hoping to restore pride. He will be targeting a place in the top five, but he could struggle on the steep gradients and a place in the top 10 may be a more realistic goal.
MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ
Age: 22. Nationality: Colombian. Team: Astana. Sky Bet odds: 22/1.
Lopez is an up-and-coming climbing talent who will lead a team at a Grand Tour for the first time. His lack of experience over three weeks will make challenging for a place on the podium a tall order, but expect him to be in the mix on summit finishes and a place in the top five is possible. Lopez beat a strong field to win the Tour de Suisse in June.