As we near the end of the first week of the 2021 Vuelta Espana, the leaderboard is already starting to take shape with many of the favourites already making up the top ten. After the first six stages, just 1m 17s separates the current leader Primoz Roglic and tenth-placed Fabio Aru. With a total of 21 stages, it is still very much all to play for and we wanted to take a closer look at some of the favourites for the 2021 Vuelta Espana title.
The favourites for the 2021 Vuelta a Espana
The 2020 Vuelta a Espana was the 75th edition of the race, one of cycling three Grand Tours. It was won for the second consecutive year by Primoz Roglic of Team Jumbo-Visma and he starts out as the favourite to defend his title in 2021 and make it three in a row. Let’s take a closer look at the form guide.
As we’ve already mentioned, Roglic is attempting to become just the fourth rider to win La Vuelta at least three times and his Jumbo-Visma team have a lot of strength in depth to support his bid for a hat-trick of Red Jerseys. Roglic will have some extra motivation after an enforced abandonment from the 2021 Tour De France and in Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss, he has two outstanding support acts who could once again get him over the line and into the record books.
The biggest threat to Roglic claiming his third consecutive Red Jersey comes from Egan Bernal and his powerhouse Ineos Grenadiers team. Bernal is the current Giro d’Italia champion and is ably supported in the Ineos team by last year’s La Vuelta runner-up Richard Carapaz. After six stages, Bernal finds himself in fifth place in the overall general classification, 41 seconds behind the leader Roglic so definitely has work on his hands. Teammate Adam Yates, another of the favourites, sits in 11th with Caparaz down in 18th after six stages.
Bernal is currently the second favourite for the red jersey at 5.00.
Enric Mas has made a strong start to the 2021 La Vuelta and currently sits in second place, just 25s behind Roglic. Mas heads a strong lineup from the Movistar Team that could only manage a fifth-place finish at the 2020 Vuelta a Espana and will be hoping for much more this year where nothing less than a podium finish will do for the home-based team. The whole team have made a strong start to this year’s edition, with Mas in second, Miguel Angel Lopez in third and Alejandro Valverde in fourth, all within 41s of the leader. You feel like this could be the year that Movistar Team makes a real challenge for the red jersey and it could be any of those three riders who push Roglic all the way.
Enric Mas is currently at 7.00 with Betway Sports to win the Vuelta a Espana.
Taking a look at some of the longer shots, Mikkel Landa is a name that always crops up and after six stages, Landa finds himself in ninth place, just 1m 12s behind Roglic. Landa was in fine form at this year’s Giro d’Italia before he was cruelly taken out of the race at the end of the first week. Known as one of the best pure climbers in the world, Landa could be a real outside challenger for the Red Jersey and could be a good bet for the podium.
Landa is currently 21.00 with Betway Sports for the outright win.
Talking of real outside chances, Fabio Aru is another who could fancy his chances of a podium push this year. Several years ago, he was known as one of the best climbers in the world and if he could rediscover some of that form, he could once again challenge for the title he won back in 2015. He recently finished second behind Landa in the Vuelta a Burgos and has made a strong start to La Vuelta, sitting tenth after six stages, just 1m 17s behind.
Betway Sports has Aru at 126.00 to take out the red jersey so could be worth an each-way bet at those odds.
Australia has a strong representation in the 2021 Vuelta a Espana with Jack Haig, Lucas Hamilton, Michael Storer, Michael Matthews, Nicholas Schultz, Robert Stannard, Dylan Sutherland, Sebastian Berwick, Damian Howson, Christopher Hamilton and Jay Vine all competing. Whilst many of these riders are part of the support crew for their teams, La Vuelta offers valuable Grand Tour experience for all of these riders and it is great to see so many Australians competing.
Haig and Lucas Hamilton were both unfortunately caught up in a crash on stage two that meant they lost over 30 seconds and put themselves well back in the pack.
Stage four saw Haig, our favourite for a podium finish, fall a further minute and a half behind Roglic and put himself out of contention, although he will have an important role to play in supporting Landa.
Stage five was a tough one for Michael Matthews in his pursuit of the Green Jersey for points. He was delivered into a good position in the finale by his ever-trusty sidekick Luka Mezgec and Rob Stannard but he lost the wheel and finished a disappointing 25th. He will need a reversal of form as we move into the tougher terrain if he is to rejoin the battle for Green.