The gap between getting home from the tour de France and flying out for the Vuelta a España has been three weeks. A short three weeks. It’s the opposite to a country mile.

For the first week at home, I was still buzzing about the Tour. Week two was settling back into normal family life. And week three marked the beginning of the preparation for la Vuelta.

This year’s Tour will be hard to match. But I’m optimistic.

The good thing is there’s no standout favorite for the Vuelta. But I’m tipping Primoz Roglic for the win.

His Jumbo-Visma team is riding on a high after July. Plus Roglic’s third at the Giro was heavily hampered by the injuries from two crashes, which did more damage than he an the team let on.

For support, he’s got Steven Kruijswick (third at The Tour), Robert Gesink (fourth at the 2010 Tour), George Bennett (the Kiwi machine and winner of the 2019 Tour Media Medal), plus Tony Martin to lead the troops on the flatter stages. And they’re not taking a sprinter.

Across at Movistar, step one will be avoid civil war. They raced the Tour as if there was a separate Best Movistar Rider Classification.

Alejandro Valverde is too old and Nairo Quintana… his earpiece went missing a few times at the Tour. He even openly stated that during a breakaway, on Stage 15, he ignored the team’s plan to support Mikel Landa and went for the stage win. Simon Yates won that day.

They must back Richard Carapz, this year’s Giro winner. If they can find the cohesion they had in May, Carapaz is a real contender.

I’m not sure how Jakob Fuglsang will back up after all his crashes, and the emotional disappointment of the Tour.

Astana would be better off backing Miguel Angel Lopez. Or as he’s better known “Super Man” Lopez. Fuglsang has the maturity and class to play the super domestic role. It will make them a dangerous combination.

Fatigue is also the question mark hanging over Rigoberto Uran’s head, after a solid top-10 at the Tour. The performance of yet another young Colombian Daniel Martinez, will be a big point of interest at EF Education First.

The rider I’m most looking forward to watching is Tadej Pogacar, of UAE. He was born late September in 1998. Yep. 1998. After many of us had finished high school.

The 20-year-old Slovenian is in his first year at the sport’s highest level and has already won the Tour of California, Volta ao Algarve (Portugal) and was sixth in the Tour of the Basque Country.

Team UAE clearly rates him. They’ve got him on a four-year contract, to the end of 2023.

I don’t know what to expect from him but I’m excited about watching him.

And then there’s our L’Etape Ambassador, Esteban Chaves.

it’s been a tough few seasons for the Smiling Assassin. And his form is a little unknown. He hasn’t raced since mid-June.

 

 


 

Being one of the most recognizable voices of cycling, Matthew Keenan regularly forms part of the international commentary team at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, broadcast around the world from Europe, USA, Africa, New Zealand and on SBS in Australia.