Vuelta a España 2017: Who are the bookmakers backing for victory?
The year's final Grand Tour is up for grabs but who will you be putting your money on?
With the year’s third and final Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, just around the corner why not get in early and make things interesting with a bet?
The Tour de France provided some of the usual favourites but this year’s iteration has also provided some unexpected contenders. Here we’ll look at who they are and their chances.
Chris Froome: 4/5 at Marathon Bet
Having won his fourth Tour de France and looking to do the first Tour-Vuelta double in 22 years, Froome is going to be the man to watch. Having won no races before his Tour victory, Froome hit form at just the right time to take the Tour de France with 54 seconds over Rigoberto Uran.
However, with nine summit finishes, the Vuelta will be no walk in the park and Froome was found wanting on the summit finish of stage 12 atop Peyragudes. In a gruelling up hill sprint, Froome lost out to Romain Bardet but also Sky colleague Mikel Landa.
His main rival in past years has been Nairo Quintana but the Colombian won’t be riding the Vuelta this year. Can Froome step up to the plate in his absence?
Vincenzo Nibali: 5/1 at Bet Stars
Having skipped the Tour de France to focus on the Giro d’Italia, the Italian had hoped to win his home tour but failed to overcome Tom Dumoulin’s time trialling capabilities.
With no Tour to bog down his preparations, Nibali will be fitter than most of his rivals, something the all rounder will hope to be the ace in his pocket.
Alberto Contador: 14/1 at Various
In his waning years Alberto Contador may not be seen as much of a threat to the general classification but the 34-year-old is always an unexpected menace particularly his explosive attacks.
His 2017 Tour de France didn’t go as the Spaniard had expected with Trek-Segafredo only recording one stage win through Bauke Mollema. That didn’t stop El Pistolero from attacking on mountain climbs though.
In his final race before retirement, Contador will hope to wow fans for one last time as he is rumoured to call it a day after the Vuelta’s conclusion.
Illnur Zakarin: 16/1 at Various
The Russian came to the fore with a solid fifth placed finish at this year’s Giro d’Italia. Zakarin animated the race in the later stages with long range mountain attacks but failed to break into the big four who decided the race’s fate on the final days of the race.
Much like Nibali, Zakarin missed the Tour de France giving him more than enough time to prepare his campaign. With much of the limelight focused on his rivals, Zakarin’s chances will be overlooked but that could pay off for the Katusha-Alpecin rider.
Fabio Aru: 18/1 at Various
The only man to have taken the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Chris Froome, Fabio Aru will be eyeing up a successful return to the Vuelta a España.
Having won here in 2015, the Vuelta holds a special place for the Italian who marked his entrance onto the GC scene.
In the later stages of the Tour de France, Aru’s chances slipped between his hands as the Astana rider started to suffer from a fever which saw him drop down the rankings to fifth.
Among the other rivals Adam Yates is one of the top choices (28/1 at Various) alongside Miguel Angel Lopez (25/1 at Coral), Esteban Chaves (33/1 at Bwin), Rafal Majka (40/1 at Various) and Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (40/1 at Boyle Sports).
These riders have shown their calibre racing at the highest level but if they were to be successful at this year’s Vuelta they will need to see some other top contenders drop out of the race.