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The third and final grand tour gets underway this weekend. Rather than writing a preview of the race I will point you in the direction of the Inner Rings comprehensive one. Also I have written a preview for Unibet which you can read here.
Here are my betting selections for the race:
Lay Gesink and Van den Broeck for the top 6 (Betfair)
Initially this bet may seem to be based on bitterness as I backed both riders to come in the top three at the Tour de France and they both did not. There is more behind this bet. A little bit of research on the team websites and their press releases about Vuelta team reveals both riders are not going for the overall win. Van den Broeck has been instructed to focus on stage wins rather than the overall as they don’t think he is physically up for the challenge after his exertions at the Tour de France.
Gesink goes into the race as co-leader of the Rabobank cycling team with Bauke Mollema. But the Team DS Adri van Houwelingen has said that he thinks Mollema has a better chance. So Gesink is likely to have to sacrifice his own chances for the overall to work for Mollema.
Top 10 Overall Classifications
This year’s Vuelta is wide open in the lower half of the top 10 in the GC. Froome and Contador are likely to take the top two spots while behind them riders like Rodriguez, Cobo, Mollema and De Gendt will challenge. Outside of that there is plenty of potential for some surprising names coming in the top 10 at the end of the three weeks. Again looking at the team websites you are able to tell who is going to be the team leader and therefore who will have the full support of the team behind him.
Eros Capecchi is going to be the leader of Liquigas Cannondale for this race. He rode well in the recent Vuelta a Burgos to finish 8th overall. He has never gone into a grand tour as the team leader but at 8/1 with SkyBet I seem him as a good value bet.
Dario Cataldo is listed on the Omega Pharma – QuickStep team as one of the three potential team leaders along with Kevin De Weert and Serge Pauwels. De Weert has not had good form recently while Pauwels has never proven himself over three weeks in a grand tour. Cataldo has coming just 12th in the last two editions of the Giro. He came 4th on the mountain stage of the recent Tour de L’Ain. Now is his chance to break into the top 10 in grand tour, he is priced at 14/1 with Bet365
Cameron Meyer is a rider who not many will associate with an assault on the top 10 in a grand tour. Orica-Greenedge are not talking up his abilities yet but he has the power and recovery ability to be moulded into the Wiggins style of Grand Tour rider. I see him has becoming the main Australian grand tour contender in the next couple of years. Neil Stephens (the team DS for the Vuelta) has said that Meyer is the only rider in their squad who is going into the race with any GC aims. There were signs earlier in the year at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of California that Meyer is developing as a climber. There is a reason why Meyer pulled out of the Australian Olympic track team and I think we could see why on the roads of Spain. At 40/1 he is my big otuside bet of the race.
Another rider who is just as unproven in Grand Tours is Andrew Talansky. At 4/1 with Sportingbet many may feel he is far too short. I still see it as a value bet, largely because the Garmin-Sharp team have given him the leadership of the team. He has put him some good performances this year coming second to Wiggins in the Tour de Romandie and more recently win
Firstly you in case you have missed them I have written two pieces already on the Tour de France on http://bet.unibet.com/sport/other-sports/cycling Please do have a look. The first takes a look at Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins chances. The second is a selection of good value bets.
The race for yellow should be dominated by a tactical battle between Evans and Wiggins. Behind them the field is incredibly closely matched on paper. SkyBet are offering a market on betting without Wiggins and Evans. There is some great value there if you agree with my assessment of the two riders below.
Jurgen Van Den Broeck without Wiggins and Evans 6/1 (SkyBet)
This rider really sprung to my attention in 2010 when he finished 4th in the Tour de France. Last year I expected him to do well at the Tour but he was a victim of a crash. He failed to recover from that crash as well as Wiggins and battle to 8th at the Vuelta at the end of season. This year he has had a good build up placing well in key build up races; Volta a Catalunya (3rd), Vuelta al Pais Vasco (12th) and Criterium du Dauphine (5th).
I expect him to one of the strongest climbers in the race and probably one of the few who could attack Evans and Wiggins. On top of that he has improved his time trialling a lot. In last year’s 47km TT at the Vuelta he lost 3’56 to the winner Martin and 3’03 to Wiggins. This year, at the Dauphine’s 53km time trial he finished 2’12 down on the winner Wiggins. He is strong candidate for third place on the podium on my eyes
Robert Gesink without Wiggins and Evans 9/1 (SkyBet)
For me Gesink is the only other rider who can TT and climb at a level close to Wiggins and Evans. Like Van den Broeck I expected great things in last year’s Tour de France. Gesink crashed as well, but was able to carry on but his injuries restricted his movement on the bike and he struggled to 32nd overall. He has finished in the top 10 of Grand Tours three times including 6th in the 2010 Tour de France. The time is now for him to step up a level and get a podium finish.
His development as rider suggests that he could. He is a strong TT rider: 4th in the 29.7km TT at the Tour of California and 5th in the 34.3km TT at the Tour de Suisse this year. He rode away from the filed impressively on the Mount Baldy stage of the Tour of California. At the Tour de Suisse he did not set the world alight but still rode well enough to finish fourth. For me he is the only rider who can get close to Wiggins or Evans. He should also have two team mates at in the mountains in the form of Mollema and Kruijswijk to assist him. At 9/1 I think he is great value.
Rein Taaramae to win the Young rider classifications 5 (Unibet)
The young rider classification is often a afterthought for most teams. In this market there are only really only a couple of contenders as evidenced by the fact that only four riders are under 10/1 for it. Kruijswijk is listed as the favourite but he will worked for his team leader Gesink and that will be his priority over the white jersey. The same can be said for Teejay Van Garderen at BMC. That just leaves Wout Poels and Taaramae. Poels is a strong rider and could do a good ride but his team manager has come out and said that they are not focusing on jersey but individual stages.
That leaves us with Taaramae who is the sole leader of the team at Cofidis. All the team will work for him to get as higher place on GC as possible. For that reason he seems the most sensible choice for me.
Thibaut Pinot stage wins over 0.5 6 (Sportingbet)
It gets quite depressing when the riders get younger than you. This Frenchman has been bubbling under the scene for a while. I thing he has the potential to put in a performance similar to what Pierre Rolland did last year. The top 10 is probably a bit unrealistic but a stage win is a better bet.
He has ridden strongly this year, especially at the Tour de Suisse. In 2011 he won six times and came 2nd on stage 7 of the Dauphine which finished La Toussuire. That climb has a mountain top finish on stage 11 and Pinot could well surprise a few. If not there are plenty of other stages that suit his abilities.