The 2019 Vuelta España sees a depth of talent tackling the 3,272-kilometre route around Spain. Starting with a team time trial on the Costa Blanca, this years edition contains eight summit finishes, four-kilometres of gravel and one individual time trial that takes place in Pau, France. In recent years the Vuelta has been the second-most viewed race in the world after the Tour, highlighting its popularity amongst cycling fans. In the peloton, riders look to the Vuelta to salvage an unsuccessful season, being the last grand tour of the calendar year. Here are some of the riders aiming for glory in Spain, and also those riders who are already out of contention.
The former ski-jumper who only started cycling in 2012 has quickly risen to the top of the World Tour. This year Roglič has continued his development adding the Tour de Romandie, Tirreno Adriatico and the UAE tour to his palmarès, whilst wearing the pink jersey for the first six stages of the Giro d'Italia.
Team Jumbo-Visma have proven they have the strength to mount a GC challenge, with big mountain domestiques like George Bennet and Steven Kruijswijk. Should Roglič prevail in the individual time trial, Jumbo-Visma has the firepower to protect their leader in the mountains.
The 2016 winner of the Vuelta a España showed good form in the final week of the Tour de France, taking victory on stage 18 in Valloire. The steep slopes of the Vuelta should suit the diminutive Colombian, who thrives on big climbs at altitude. Perhaps the main test for Quintana will be the time trials on stage 1 and stage 10. Movistar lost over a minute to their rivals in the team time trial at the Tour de France, demonstrating a weakness that needs to be addressed.
With a range of climbing talent including Amador, Valverde, Carapaz and Mikel Landa, Movistar’s tactics have been criticised for appearing inconsistent. However if Quintana was to receive full backing from his team, then he would be a strong contender for finishing on the top step in Madrid.
Should Quintana win the Vuelta, it would be the first time in history that all three grand tours have been won by Latin American cyclists in the same year. With Colombia still celebrating Egan Bernal’s victory in France, Quintana’s victory would cap off an outstanding season for Colombian cycling.
The young British rider has been slowly climbing the ranks, riding for Caja Rural for two seasons before joining EF Education First. This year he finished 11th at the Giro d'Italia and briefly led the young rider classification on stage 12. He also won a stage and took the mountains classification at the Tour de Suisse, cementing his status amongst world tour GC contenders.
Carthy has a striking style on the bike, being 1.93 meters he wrestles the bike up high mountain passes. His ability to dig in and get out of his comfort zone is what makes him so fierce in a bike race.
Out of contention
It has already been confirmed that Tom Dumoulin will not race the Vuelta a España, due to ongoing knee trouble that has disrupted his season. The dutchman underwent minor surgery on his knee from an injury sustained at the Giro d’Italia, where he abandoned on stage 5.
When fully fit Dumoulin is a big hitter, having already won the Giro in 2017 and finishing runner up at the Tour de France in 2018. However the rumours of a switch from Sunweb to Jumbo-Visma have been confirmed, with the Dutchman set to be riding alongside Roglič and Kruijswijk next season. The switch of teams summarises a tumultuous season for Dumoulin, with him failing to achieve the results that he is capable of.
The unexpected winner of this year's Giro would have been considered a favorite of the 2019 Vuelta, if it wasn't for a training crash that has ended his season. Carapaz fell off his bike the weekend before the Vuelta was due to start, which caused a strong bruise on his right shoulder and serious injuries. Movistar were expected to have a trident of GC challengers with Valverde and Quintana also aiming for the overall.
Movistar will miss Carapaz, who won two stages and beat Vincenzo Nibali by over a minute in the Giro. Carapaz’s dominant display caught the attention of Dave Brailsford, with rumours suggesting that next year the Ecuadorian is switching teams from Movistar to Ineos.
Froome is a modern legend of the Vuelta a España, having won it twice and finished runner-up twice. The second of those Vuelta titles being awarded after Juan Jose Cobo was stripped of the title over doping irregularities. Froome was granted the 2011 Vuelta title from his hospital bed after a horror crash that ended his bid for a fifth Tour de France. Those injuries have subsequently ended his season, keeping him from challenging for a third Vuelta title.
Whilst not being a GC rider, a notable omission from the Vuelta will be Peter Sagan. Seen signing autographs mid-stage and pulling wheelies on a time trial bike, Sagan adds entertainment to every race he enters. The Slovakian rider will instead be aiming for the World Championships in Yorkshire, where he will be hoping to achieve a fourth season in the rainbow bands. An understandable goal, with four wins in the men's elite road race being an all-time record.