The first week of the Vuelta a España is in the books, and the race is nicely poised heading into the second half of proceedings. There has been plenty of attacking riding on display through the first half of the race, so if you’ve missed any of the action, or just need a refresher, here’s a quick rundown of the major talking points so far:
Froome on form
Much of the media pre-amble before this edition of the race centred around Chris Froome’s quest to be the first man in several decades to complete the Tour-Vuelta double. Indeed, Froome has kept both supporters and sceptics alike interested, as he’s produced a series of measured, confident rides to hold a 36 second lead on GC after the first ten stages. Though it’s still a long way to Madrid, Froome has shown very few chinks in the armour up to this point, and he goes into the business end of the race as the overwhelming favourite for overall glory and an historic red jersey.
Chaves best of the rest
While Froome remains the man to beat, Orica-Scott’s Esteban Chaves appears to be the man most capable of spoiling Team Sky’s party. Long dubbed a future Grand Tour winner, the diminutive Colombian sits within striking distance of the race lead, and has looked more comfortable than ever with the searing pace Froome has set up the race’s many steep inclines. Granted, he’ll need to put a considerable distance between himself and his superior time-trialling rivals before the final week, but with the Yates brothers and young up-and-comer Jack Haig for support, Orica should be able to tee him up nicely for a stinging attack or two.
Quick-Step are quickest
For a team that many deem to be specialists in the one-day classics, Quick-Step floors are having a superb Grand Tour so far. They’ve racked up not one, but four stage wins, a number approaching the fantastic five each at the Giro and Tour this year. Matteo Trentin has the green jersey and a pair of wins to show for his efforts, whilst Yves Lampaert and Julian Alaphilippe have also punched the air. David de la Cruz remains in the GC mix, and there’s hardly been a day without one of the boys in blue putting in a mightily impressive ride. In a race full of unpredictability, there’s probably no safer bet than another Quick-Step stage win or two as the race progresses.
As is so often the case at the Vuelta, a host of lesser-known riders have had ample opportunity to add a coveted Grand Tour stage win to their growing palmarès. On the whole, the GC contenders have been happy to slug it out themselves behind the breakaway, generously allowing the likes of Julian Alaphilippe, Tomasz Marzynski, Matej Mohoric and Alexey Lutsenko to take the spoils.
Whilst you may not be racing up spectator-lined roads like at the Vuelta, you too can get your hands on a bike fit for a Grand Tour pro. Take a look: