Appointment Viewing: La Vuelta is Cycling’s Best Grand Tour

Can you justify paying $49.99 for the NBC Gold Sports Pass?

Le Tour de France is included, but you can get that pretty easily for free on a number of methods.Trying to explain the cost to your wife may be tough, but not if she understands the Vuelta.

I watch everyday of the TDF, but there’s always an empty feeling at the end.

Some might blame Team Sky’s dominance, but for me it seems like most of the contenders are racing not to lose until they realize they aren’t going to win it.

The Vuelta just feels like pure Grand Tour racing.

 

 

 

It’s the stars last chance for glory of the year meaning they are more than willing to just let it fly.

All that risk taking makes for a much race for you: the viewer, but it doesn’t end there.

If you want lead changes, then you have to have uphill finishes.

Lots of them.

This year’s Vuelta has eight¬†which is three more than le Tour offered this year.

 

Cosmo Catalano’s race recaps are the best!

 

While all this elevation keeps the top notch sprinters away (or you’ll see them depart early to prep for the World Championships), I’m fine watching the minutes of the best GC racers climbing over the few seconds seeing guys in their drops.

Staying on the note of redemption, there are a lot of great stories in play.

We’ve always wanted to see what Richie Porte could in his post-Sky residence, but we’ve never had the chance with a series of unfortunate incidents on the grand stage.

In the 2016 Tour de France, an untimely puncture on the second stage followed by the infamous crash on Mont Ventoux leading to Chris Froome’s famous Gump-ian run.

 

 

Run Forrest, Run!

 

At least he finished that year, but the next two editions Porte wrecked out spectarularly in 2017,spectacularly and then on the cobbled stage this year.

Then there’s Simon Yates who held the lead at the Giro for almost two weeks to only incredibly bonk with three days left finishing almost forty minutes behind just on that stage!

This time, he’ll have the help of his twin brother Adam who got as high as 7th place in this year’s TDF to only finish about another 20 spots down.
Movistar teammates Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde are both former Vuelta winners who have strong motivation to wear the maillot rojo again.

Another “what if” after Nibali broke a vertabrae after getting caught in this during the TDF.

 

For the 38-year-old Valverde, he’s held off the sunset of his career longer than expected and what a way to end a career nine years after his last victory.

As for Quintana, his 2016 win over Froome was supposed to be the final stepping stone to grab the reins at the TDF, but that’s yet to happen.

Then you have the wiley veterans like Fabiano Aru and Vincenzo Nibali (also former winners) and three time grand tour runner up Rigaberto Uran all thristy for this season capping win.

 

 

 

On top of these names, there are a number of riders like Dan Martin, Thibaut Pinot, George Bennett, Steven Kruijswijk and Pierre Rolland you can all make legit cases for (I’m secretly rooting for Michael Woods though).

The best subplot may be a couple of the younger riders.

Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez finished third this year at the Giro and at the ripe age of 24, should be poised to breakout.

There’s also Team Sky’s Tao Geoghegan Hart who impressed at the Tour of California and we’ll have more of an idea what he’s capable of starting this week.

I think the funny thing is Richie Porte is listed as the favorite to win with odds at 3/1, but really this is anyone’s game.

 

Sounds like CyclingNews believes most of the same things.

 

The race dynamics shift so much even within each stage because these riders have such different abilities that certain positioning within a group can bring varying results.

I would say all we can do is wait and see, but that’s another great part of the Vuelta.

Since it’s in Western Europe, the earlier start times aren’t as early to us west coasters meaning more attentive viewing!

That is if your significant other allows it.