The Vuelta a España begins this weekend with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera and brings together arguably the toughest Grand Tour field of the year.
Yet again, the organisers have packed the climbs in with 13 mountain stages, including eight summit finishes. Time trials will also have a huge role to play in the race, with three stages against the clock. The final sprint stage has been ditched this year, and the organisers have handed the riders an individual time trial to decide the race.
Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) returns to defend the title he unexpectedly took a year ago. The American will once again be the oldest rider in the race and heads a very experienced team, with former Giro d’Italia winner Damiano Cunego providing support. This year’s Giro champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will be looking to add a second three-week race to his palmarès. He will be sharing leadership duties with Alejandro Valverde, but the Colombian will be the favourite of the two Movistar riders.
Home fans were given something to cheer about when Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) announced last week that he would take to the start line. Contador is still recovering from the broken tibia he suffered at the Tour de France and says that he won’t be targeting the general classification. However, it’s hard to imagine Contador taking a backseat if he has the legs.
Who else will feature in this year’s race? Here are Cyclingnews’ top 10 riders to watch at the Vuelta a Espana.
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