Cycling La Vuelta Espagne 2017

tomdouglas
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Cycling La Vuelta Espagne 2017

Postby tomdouglas » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:46 am

Vuelta time again, and it promises to be a corker; no comparison to the very staid Tour de France route.
Starting with a team time trial late Saturday afternoon, which should set things up nicely to begin with. Nobody, barring mishaps, should lose too much time here, but any advantage handed to Froome is always a setback.
BMC are 10/11 with bet365 to win the opener, (no other firms betting as yet), and I think they are likely to win and take the first leader's jersey.
Chris Froome is a shade odds on for the outright win, perhaps a touch of evens on the exchanges, and a worthy favourite. The final week's 40 km time trial would seem to represent something of a penalty kick for Froome, who's among the best in the world at this discipline. He could reasonably be expected to gain between 40 seconds and 4 minutes on his main rivals over this course. Nevertheless, as I've always said, a grand tour is like a grand national, and every day presents another obstacle, and Froome has certainly not been showing the same dominance as we've seen in the past. This tour, despite the time trials, is one for the climbers, and whoever wins will be the one who hangs in there day after day and still keeps going.
Contador has said this will be his final grand tour, and I'm sure he'll make his presence felt, but it's some time since we saw him at his best. He is however still riding at a high level, and he does time trial well too.
Vicenzo Nibali is also here, and he too hasn't been at the top of his game this season. The difference here is that we've seen Nibali like this before, and then he shines on the big stage. Generally second favourite, and I'm sure we'll see him challenge for the podium.
Fabio Aru has been most disappointing recently, seemingly lacking that little bit extra which saw him win here in the past. It's fair to say that Astana's team has been depleted somewhat over the last year too, they are no longer able to dominate a race like this.
It is Astana though, who have possibly the most exciting rider here, in young Miguel Angel Lopez. I had penned him in as the most likely winner of this race as soon as the course was announced, but it hasn't been plain sailing for him thus far. Incidents and injuries, as well as a spell of illness, have thwarted his progress. He does have some racing in his legs though, and in fact won a stage at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, where he finished 4th overall. That form wouldn't quite be good enough here, but it shows a steady progression, and there's every possibility that the young man they call "Superman" will challenge the very best when the real climbing begins. Trading at around 38/1 on the exchanges is reasonable for one so talented, and he's one of those riders who, if things haven't gone quite to plan, will nick a stage win for you.
Lots of talent in this field, and many of them youngsters. Orica have Chaves here, as well as Simon Yates and twin brother Adam Yates, a great trio, although things can get complicated when it's not clear who's leader.
Bardet is back again, but how can he gain the minutes he'll lose in the time trial?
Barguil is taking his chances too, but whether he'll go for the g.c. or otherwise remains to be seen. I actually quite like Barguil, and he's at biggish odds on the exchanges.
Talansky and Kelderman will both hope for a breakthrough at this level; both have shown immense promise, and both seem to be in reasonable form.
Davide Formolo has long been touted as Italy's best hope for the future, but we have only seen glimpses since he joined the ranks. His time trial is somewhat lacking, but perhaps he can string a three week race together this time and get a top 10 result.
Rui Costa's here, but these climbs are too steep for the former world champ; a stage win will be his goal.
Steven Kruijswijk is back, and at around 50/1 he's a contender. These steep punchy climbs are not really best suited to him though, but I still expect him to feature towards the final week.
Two more youngsters who cam make their presence felt are Enrique Mas and louis Mentjes, both at huge odds. I actually had a small Each Way interest on Mentjes at a big price with bet365, and also bet him for top 10.
Let's hope the weather for the opening days is dry, so we avoid the silly crashes, and look forward to the real battles in the mountains.
I expect to be able to comment most days. (provided I don't always have to log in via an e-mail).
Please do share your thoughts. Don't be put off betting the short odds favs just because I don't; it never stopped Froomey winning before.
I forgot to mention TeeJay Van Garderen, possibly the most disappointing of all the challengers, but leader of BMC, likely to start with a small lead, and a fair time trial to boot. If Tejay finds the form he's capable of, and he did look good recently, then the 150/1 on offer with 888Sport could look silly.

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Stage 2

Postby tomdouglas » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:50 pm

The TTT went according to expectations, and BMC took the win.
Stage 2 sees one of few opportunities for the sprinters, unlike the Tour de France sprint fest which resulted in so many abandons, as the riders were unable to keep tabs on the climbers who were forced to race hard through the limited mountain stages. This means that there are few sprinters here, and so the early breakaway won't be allowed off the leash, and it'll come down to a bunch sprint. The route is susceptible to crosswinds, and I don't have the weather forecast; either way the break doesn't stand a chance this time.
John Dagenkolb is 3/1 with Paddy Power, and is my idea of the winner. He hasn't really been at his very best thus far, but in a limited competition I still like him for the win.
Edward Thuens is 22/1 with Paddy Power, and as a rider in form, and with good team support, he represents fair Each Way value in what should be a not too complicated sprint.
Adam Blythe is 12/1 with bet365, and he too has a good shot at the podium here, so once again can be considered an Each Way proposition.
It's going to be a bunch sprint, and they can get messy, but on paper it looks fairly uncomplicated.
Sascha Modolo and Matteo Trentin and Magnus Cort Nielson pretty much round out the group of sprinters here, and I think I'm right in saying that a win for Trentin (maybe even 2nd. place, would put him in the leader's jersey. Trentin's a fine rider, and in good form, but he's not usually quite fast enough unless it's a really tough stage.
I think Dagenkolb could be good enough this time, even if the wind blows.

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Re: Cycling La Vuelta Espagne 2017 Stage 3

Postby tomdouglas » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:58 pm

Well the final couple of Kilometers were interesting enough today, and Quick Step once again took advantage of the cross wind, allowing Lampaert to steal an advantage, take the stage win and the lead, and Trentin getting a tow from the chasers was able to save his energy and win the sprint for second as well. Dagenkolb was confined to looking after Contador; Blyth managed to nick third, just keeping Theuns out of the money. There were a few gaps, but it seems they were generally ignored by the timekeepers.
Stage 3 is going to be an entirely different stage, and only a climber can win, but of course almost all the riders here are fair climbers at least. The stage begins by going up a proper cat.1 climb. Thereafter it's pretty much downhill until the next one, and it's another tough one. Fast downhill to the final cat.2 climb, and this is a tough climb too. A tricky downhill, only 7km from the summit to the line; a solo rider with a gap can hold on.
Later in the race this stage would have been almost surely booked for a breakaway, and there's no shortage of capable candidates. A number of regular attackers have given up some time, and they might be cut some slack early on. Attapuma, Dombrowski, De Marchi, Geniez, and Denefil all fit the bill, and none of these would be a threat. The bookmakers and some of the bloggers see it as a stage for the break, but I'm not at all convinced, I think there's too much ambition in the peloton, and too much risk involved in letting some of these riders get away. I suspect a fast pace from the start, and if any one of the g.c. riders shows weakness, then it will be a proper battle. However, as always it depends upon who gets away; teams rarely admit to "doing deals", but it could happen that the handful will be let loose.
If the race is all together on the last climb then the usual suspects will attack. Barguil is perfectly capable, so is Bardet, and it's a perfect finale for Alaphilippe to accelerate over the top and speed to the line. Pantano and Rui Costa also pack a sprint finish as well as descending skills, although the latter might be stretched on the steeper slopes if the pace is high. The list of probables is very long, and includes the g.c. men. I thought Jetse Bol might have a squeak at a huge price if the breakaway are allowed a lead.
This is possibly the most unpredictable stage in the entire race, simply because it comes so early. Will risks be taken at this stage, or will caution be the order of the day? I think that someone will go on the attack and force the others to respond.
I have no strong fancy. I've had a few small bets, including Pantano, despite the fact that he's liable to be looking after Contador, and Rui Costa and also on Simon Yates. Also Jetse Bol just because he's too big a price. Take your pick this time, and if you fancy the breakaway then Attapuma certainly looks sure to go for it. Dimension Data will target it with either Fraile or with Serge Pauwels or even Anton, and anyone serious about grabbing the K.O.M. jersey could get it today, so that's a big target for some teams.
Good luck.

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Re: Cycling La Vuelta Espagne 2017 more stage 3

Postby tomdouglas » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:57 am

I've had a small wager on Enric Mas @ 150/1 with Skybet, so far the only firm to offer odds on him following numerous requests. This young man is a very good climber, and comes here in good form. He's not going to out-sprint anyone, but he just might be cut some slack.

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Re: Cycling La Vuelta Espagne 2017 stage 4.

Postby tomdouglas » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:41 pm

A strange stage today, with no real early battle; a group allowed to go from the gun, but then a strong pace set throughout so as never to allow them the gap they needed. Then with several riders suffering, notably Contador, it was Froome who went on the attack. Chaves followed, and looked to be in good shape. The remainder clung on, some looking rather race rusty, but the main protagonists managed to regroup. Nibali showed his experience when attacking late to sneak the win, ahead of De La Cruz, who looked like he ought to have taken the win. Tight at the top, but Froome leads the race.
Stage 4 had a look of a possible upset, and just 4 days in there are tired looking riders. It's almost surely another sprint finish, but don't discount a late attack once again. Dagenkolb should be free of g.c. duties this time, but it's stablemate Thuens who heads the market. It's unlikely that Trek will try with both, but then there aren't many real sprinters here. Trentin remains in excellent form too, but as said previously he's not a pure sprinter either. Modolo, although not a fav. of mine, is on par with most of these guys as a sprinter. Once again Adam Blythe is expected to feature, and at around 8/1 he is my Each Way choice. Dagenkolb is around 5/1, but there remains some doubt as to whether he'll be selected as the chosen rider, and Theuns is too short this time. With no top rank sprinter here, and a head wind forecast, which should limit the breakaway, there is always a chance of an outsider sneaking in, but Cort Nielsen and Debuscherre both have speed enough to challenge. One I like as potentially faster is Lorenzo Manzin, who may not have the best team support, and therefore require some luck, but is on offer at 80/1 with bet365.
Good luck.

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