On Monday, I spoke about the route of this year’s Vuelta a España.

Today, I will give you my opinion about the general classification riders.  Firstly I will talk about the main contenders such as Froome & Bardet, and after I will talk about some of the riders who might surprise you in the upcoming weeks.

This picture comes from cyclingweekly.com

Chris Froome (Team Sky) is, in my opinion, the favourite to win this race.

The Briton will be in top condition and will have a very strong squad around him.  Riders like Wout Poels, Mikel Nieve, Diego Rosa and David Lopez will all work extremely hard for him to get the Vuelta a España and Tour de France double.

There is only one thing that isn’t in his favour and that is the short but very steep climbs.  He just doesn’t carry to explosiveness like other riders do.

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) will be one of his main rivals.

The Frenchman finished on the podium for the third time at the Tour de France and will be looking to get a good result in the Vuelta a España too.  He will already have Domenico Pozzovivo in his team, who could also finish high in the general classification.

The only weak spot of these two riders is the individual time trial of forty kilometres, which is flat and straight.  If they can limit the damage in this race against the clock, they should be very successful!

Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) is another contender for the win.

The Spaniard will wear the number one during this race because he has announced his retirement afterwards.  He should show everything he has got for the last time in his career and it will be very odd if we don’t see him go all out for the victory.

The route is in his favour because there are a lot of uphill finishes and he will also have a decent team around him with riders like Jarlinson Pantano and Peter Stetina.

The next rider with a chance to win the Vuelta a España is Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team).

The Italian rider finished in fifth in the Tour de France but could’ve made the podium, if he didn’t get ill in the final week of the race.

He can take revenge for that unexpected issue, because most of his rivals are also here.  He will also have a good team at his disposal with riders like Luis Leon Sanchez and Alexey Lutsenko.  Furthermore, he will also have Miguel Angel Lopez, a talented climber with a lot of potential, on his side.

If Lopez can stay out of trouble, which hasn’t been the case so far, he and Aru will be a dangerous tandem in the mountains.

Also, Vincenzo Nibali (Team Bahrain Merida) will be looking for a strong start to this race.

The Italian finished third in the Giro d’Italia and will come here to do even better.  The biggest disadvantage for him will be that there are not enough opportunities to make the difference in the descent.

If he wants to gain time against his rivals, he will have to do it uphill by attacking or committing a coup.  If he and his team decide to do this, riders like Franco Pellizotti, Giovanni Visconti, Javier Moreno and Valerio Agnoli will be crucial for him.

It is also possible that victory could go to Ilnur Zakarin (Team Katusha).

The Russian finished fifth in the Giro d’Italia and could look to do better in this race.  The fact that there are a lot of uphill finishes will be in his favour too.

Ilnur and his team won’t have to carry the race, which should place him as an underdog.  The 27-year-old rider also has an decent team at his disposal to help him in the mountains with riders like Rein Taaramae, Alberto Losada and Matvey Mamykin by his side.

This picture comes from cyclingnews.com

Rafal Majka (Team Bora Hansgrohe) is the next rider on this list.

The Pole has shown in the past that he is good in the grand tours and finished third at the Vuelta a España in 2015.  However, the 27-year-old rider will have a big advantage because there are a lot of uphill finishes and there aren’t a lot of kilometres against the clock.

That said, he will have a good team around him with riders like Patrick Konrad, Emanuel Buchmann and Pawel Poljanski for the mountain stages.

Johan Esteban Chaves (Team Orica Scott) also has a shot at a good result in this race.

The Columbian already finished twice in the top five in the last two editions of this race.  The route will also be in his favour because there are a lot of uphill finishes with high gradients, where he can take time towards his rivals because he has that kind of explosiveness.

The 27-year-old rider won’t have a lack of support either because he has Svein Tuft and Sam Bewley for the flat and Jack Haig, Carlos Verona and Christopher Juul-Jensen, who are good domestiques, in my opinion.

Chaves will also start alongside Adam and Simon Yates, who both have a top ten classification in one of this years’ grand tours.

The list doesn’t stop here as there are still a number of teams with a candidate, who have the capacities to be in a top ten of a grandtour.

Team UAE Emirates have two riders, who can also do a good job for the general classification in Rui Costa and Louis Meintjes.

Team Lotto NL Jumbo have George Bennett and Steven Kruiswijk at their disposal.

Finally, riders like Marc Soler, Carlos Betancur (both Team Movistar), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) and David De La Cruz (Tema Quick Step Floors) can also play a role in this heavy race.


About the Author: My name is Nick and I am a 20-year-old student applied linguistics (Dutch, German and Russian) with a big passion for cycling. Consequently, I have a blog about cycling (cyclinghill.weebly.com), where you can read the previews of all the biggest races in the world of professional cycling. It is my dream to work in the world of cycling.

You can follow me on Twitter here.