Generally, when I look for a favorite in the Vuelta, I first look to the Tour de France. The Tour gives me good data for the Vuelta. First. The riders who finished and finished well at the Tour are the first off my Vuelta list.
The Tour brings top riders trying for a mid July peak. I believe that after a grueling three week race trying for a podium spot, holding peak form for 5 – 6 weeks until the start of another three week grand tour is near impossible.
The next part of the Tour is who didn’t make it through. Those riders will be rested and motivated for the last Grand Tour. It should also be an easier task to back the form down from the Tour’s razor edge and bring it back for an early September run in Spain.
Last year, I used this formula to pencil in Alejandro Valverde and Alexandre Vinokourov. Truth be told, I had the order reversed. I used the hometown kid as a tiebreaker. Why be picky.
What do I do this year. While Vino didn’t finish the Tour, he is off the list. Valverde and Sastre gave it their all in France. Kloden? I’m sure Unipublic regrets taking a gamble (sorry) by picking Astana over Unibet.com. While Astana received a vote of confidence from Pat McQuaid, I would not be surprised to see something happen here.
So, I’m going to have to think on this one. If all the top guys are all in the same place after the Tour then maybe it will be a wash. I could also make an argument for an up and comer. Do I go back to the Giro? Not sure.
All I do know is that it is way too early to go on record.