La Vuelta a Espana: Ones to watch as third Grand Tour departs
This lunchtime the eyes of the cycling world will be on Utrecht, the unlikely starting point for the third and final Grand Tour of the year, La Vuelta a Espana.
A Dutch Grand Depart kicks off the 77th edition of the race, which has traditionally followed the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and this Vuelta will see 23 teams battle it out to have one of their riders don the red jersey come the finish line in Madrid.
The 2022 route will see the peloton take on six flat stages, four hilly stages, seven mountain stages, two flat stages with high-altitude finishes, plus team and individual time trials.
Following three days in the Netherlands, the riders will head to Spain for a string of stages in the north, taking in the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias. The Vuelta then decamps to Alicante for a series of southern stages before heading inland and concluding in Madrid on 11 September.
Alongside the main prize, a white jersey will be awarded to the best young rider, a green jersey for the points winner and a blue polka dot jersey for the best performer in the mountains. Here are three riders to keep an eye on over the next fortnight:
A three-time winner looking for a fourth consecutive Vuelta, Roglic and his team Jumbo-Visma will understandably start as hot favourites.
So suited is the Slovenian to the style of stage that the Iberian race offers that it has only added to a sense of it being Roglic’s to lose.
Jumbo-Visma are one of the big players in Grand Tour cycling and will be looking to follow up their Tour de France victory, with Dane Jonas Vingegaard, with a Roglic win here.
Roglic won this year’s Paris-Nice ahead of Briton Simon Yates and also topped the Criterium du Dauphine classification but missed out on the Tour of the Basque Country with a knee injury.
No matter which way you look at this race, Roglic is the overwhelming favourite – a tag he has justified in years past.
Evenepoel might be an unfamiliar name for those who aren’t deep into the world of cycling, but the 22-year-old Belgian could be a dark horse in Spain.
He has history in the country, having won the San Sebastian classic this year by the biggest margin seen in a World Tour one-day race in the last decade, one minute and 58 seconds.
He is also his national time trial champion and the reigning Tour of Norway and Volta ao Algarve champion.
On top of his San Sebastian classic win, he also has wins at the Gullegem Koerse and Liege-Bastogne-Liege races. Basically, Evenepoel is a serial winner.
His only appearance in a Grand Tour came at the Giro last year, where he failed to finish, but expect the youngster to challenge deep into this Spanish edition.
The Briton, 23, will ride out with the Ineos Grenadiers as he looks to add to a stellar season so far.
The Londoner’s year has seen him win the time trial at the National Road Championships, claim the yellow jersey at the Tour de Pologne and secure the points jersey at both the Tour de Romandie and the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali.
Add to that a couple of stage wins and the Tokyo omnium silver medalist looks to be in good form going into his first Grand Tour.
Hayter has been seen as a promising Grand Tour road racer for some time now and will line up for Ineos next to the likes of Richard Carapaz and 2020 Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart.