The Kingmaker

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As Alberto Contador bows out of cycling in the Vuelta which starts tomorrow, few expect him to win, but I suspect his presence will have a significant effect on who does.

‘Bert’ is a racer, he’ll keep plugging away until he cracks, he won’t stop with a fractured leg, he’ll never give up until he really can’t do any more. Unlike Quintana, who appears to spend every Grand Tour waiting for that perfect moment to attack, Contador has always influenced proceedings, then capitalised from them. It’s a style of racing that has endeared fans to him, even though we have to mention the beef sandwich, I can’t help liking the guy & I’m genuinely sad to see his performances wain over the last year.

This unpredictable style of racing doesn’t really suit Sky’s calculating approach, which should make things much more interesting. As we saw in the Tour, even if Contador is five minutes down, he rarely gets any leeway, simply because he’s Alberto Contador & we know what he’s capable of. I firmly believe Froome’s season so far means that he’s likely in better form at the Vuelta than he was in the Tour, with larger time gaps possible, but that discounts the Bert effect, this is his last race & he’s going to empty himself, which is bad news for everybody else & adds a substantial element of unpredictability to the three-week event.

So as far as predictions go, our Kingmaker will take a stage, likely a prestigious one, and hopefully late on so he can cause as much trouble as possible trying to win every other one.

1st: Froome

2nd: Nibali

3rd: Zakarin

4th: Chaves

5th: Betancur

In every break: Manzano Posobon team

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