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Vuelta a España countdown: Top 10 riders to watch

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Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde flank Chris Froome on the final podium.

Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde flank Chris Froome on the final podium. (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)
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Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru together in Dubai

Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru together in Dubai (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)
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Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)
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Joaquim Rodríguez back in polka dots although it is Chris Froome who leads the classification

Joaquim Rodríguez back in polka dots although it is Chris Froome who leads the classification (Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)
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Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)

Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Mikel Landa (Astana)

Mikel Landa (Astana)
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Andrew Talansky on his way to finishing second during stage 17.

Andrew Talansky on his way to finishing second during stage 17.

The 2015 Vuelta a España will see the top four riders from the Tour de France and two of the top three from the Giro d'Italia challenge each other for the red jersey with defending champion Alberto Contador the glaring omission in the long list of general classification contenders. The packed start list has ensured the Spanish grand tour will be race to watch over the next three weeks.

Tour champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) is vying to become the third rider in history to do the Tour-Vuelta double after Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Bernard Hinault in 1978. Movistar's Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, second and third at the Tour, will need to be more agressive then their July showing to stop the Brit.

Astana will field arguably the strongest GC team at the Vuelta with the armada of Fabio Aru, Mikel Landa and Vincenzo Nibali. Aru and Landa lead the line at the Giro for Astana while Nibali had solo leadership, even if it  was questioned at times, for the Tour as he finished fourth overall. Sport director Giuseppe Martinelli will have his work cut out to manage the aspirations of the three riders but its a problem a lot of teams would be envious of.

Joaquim Rodríguez, an eight time stage winner at the Vuelta, has finished fourth at the last two editions of the race and will be looking for more success on home soil - particularly stage 11 on home roads in Andorra which he helped design.

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