The Vuelta 2017 Outright
Cycling events are some of the most physically demanding events in world sport, and it is no surprise that the Vuelta is often referred to as 'vicious' by riders. The race includes a stage that climbs the summit of Alto de l'Angliru, which is widely regarded as one of the steepest and toughest climbs in world cycling with grades as steep as 23.6%. The event is certainly one of the most challenging race meets on the calendar.
The 2017 edition of the Vuelta will commence in Nîmes, France, situated around 300km north-east of the Spanish border; this will be just the third time the race will commence outside of Spain in it's 82 year history and will also include a stop in Andorra. By the end of the tour, the riders who complete the race will have journeyed approximately 3,300 kilometres in just three weeks.
At the end of each stage, the rider with the best overall time will be presented with the red jersey, and the outright winner of the event will be the rider who is in possession of the 'Maillot Rojo' at the end of the three week tour. This is known as the General Classification, and there are also three other main classifications awarded throughout the race (Points, Mountains and Combination).
In terms of betting, the outright victory market is the most prominent among the top betting sites. Most of the world's top riders will feature in this year's tour, and as you would expect feature prominently in the list of odds available for the outright race victory.
Below is a list of the top contenders, ranked in order of betting favouritism, and following this we outline who has the best chance of winning the 2017 Vuelta a España.
The Favourite - Chris Froome
Froome is one of the best riders going around at the moment, and is the almost un-backable favourite to win the 2017 Vuelta. He won the 2017 Tour de France, his third consecutive win at the event and fourth in the last five years, and has finished in second-place on three ocassions already at the Vuelta. One would think it is only a matter of time before he wins this event and this year is looking as likely as ever. Although Froome comes into the event as the clear favourite, history is well and truly against him. Since the race was moved to August/September in 1995, no rider has ever won the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in the same season.
Furthermore, no British rider has ever won the Spanish event, so Froome will certainly be a pioneer in the sport if he manages to take hold of the Red Jersey after the final stage. While Chris Froome is the obvious choice for victory in the event, his odds do not present punters with a chance to make any sort of profit. -138 is the sort of price you should steer clear from considering the length of the event and the potential for things to go astray. You would be better off waiting to see how the first few stages pan out before putting your money down on the British champion.
Alberto Contador will certainly be the home favourite as he chases the chance to be the first rider to win four Vuelta a España titles. The event will also be the last for the Spaniard as he recently announced he will retire from professional cycling at the end of the race.
One of just six riders in history to have won all three of the European Grand Tours, Contador appears in third on the list of odds above at +900. If you're looking for a value pick, and believe that there is a place in sport for fairytale finishes, Alberto is your man. He is unlikely to drop too much in price so now is the perfect time to place your bet.
While we're on the subject of cyclists who have won all three Grand Tours on the European circuit, Italian Vincenzo Nibali enters the race as second favourite and will provide the biggest threat to Froome's forecasted dominance. Nibali won the Tour de France in 2014 (the only one Froome hasn't won in the last five starts), won the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and 2016 and donned the Red Jersey at the 2010 Vuelta. Nibali finished third at his home tour this year, his fifth top-three finish from seven starts, and he has his eyes firmly set on a second Vuelta victory after sitting out the Tour de France.
At odds of +400, he presents a worthwhile alternative to Froome and has the best pedigree out of any of the challengers this year.
Ilnur Zakarin is next on the table of odds, which is interesting considering he has never raced in the Vuelta. He did finish in a respectable fifth position at this year's Giro d'Italia, however he doesn't have the experience of the top three contenders and should be considered much more of a long shot to win the race. +1400 may seem like a good price, but when you consider other names further down the list, he's way too short here.
Romain Bardet is one name to consider, having finished second and third respectively in his last two Tour de France starts. Like Zakarin, The Frenchman has never appeared in a Vuelta meet, although he certainly has the potential to push for a podium finish. At odds of +3300, he presents a value pick and one feels it is only a matter of time before he breaks through with a victory.
Could this be his time?
The 2017 Vuelta a España will certainly be intriguing viewing. It all gets underway on Saturday, August 19th and ends three weeks later with a customary road circuit in Madrid on Sunday, September 10th. Who do you think will win this year's event? Do you agree with the analysis above? Make sure you join the conversation on Facebook and let us know your thoughts.
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