Monday, April 01, 2013

Poor participation sees Porte installed as the man to beat at Vuelta al País Vasco

While the Vuelta al País Vasco of 2013 is likely to be high on spectacular views, innumerable climbs, rain-soaked roads and in all likelihood dramatic racing right down to the last stage, the 53rd edition of the WorldTour event features a line-up decidedly short on top-class stage racers.

Granted, Richie Porte, Ryder Hesjedal, Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón, Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck, Tony Martin, Nairo Quintana, Jakob Fuglsang, Alberto Contador, Damiano Cunego, Philippe Gilbert, Jurgen van den Broeck and Tom Danielson, to name but a few, are likely to put on a show worthy of the race's moniker "the hardest one-week race in cycling". But the level of participation has without a doubt been higher in the recent past.

There'll be no Wiggins, Froome, Evans, Nibali, Scarponi, Valverde, Rodríguez, Basso, Horner or Mollema - for the first time in many a year, according to Gara, none of the riders that made up the podium in last summer's Tour de France will be on show.

That undoubtedly makes Richie Porte, so dominant at Paris-Nice, the man to beat. In the form of his life and with a stellar support crew including the likes of Henao and Kiryienka, Porte is the odds-on favourite.

Euskaltel will have the ever-reliable Samuel Sánchez among their ranks, but, with the 34-year-old looking to peak for next month's Giro d'Italia, the stage might be set for another rider in orange to steal the limelight. Ion Izagirre in particular should find the course to his liking and shouldn't be too put off by the concluding stage's individual time trial. His brother Gorka and Igor Antón also look to be in decent shape, but will not be too keen on that ITT in Beasain.

According to the team's website, Igor González de Galdeano's chosen eight spent Sunday afternoon getting to know the finishing climb on stage 5, La Lejana. The overall prize might be out of Euskaltel's reach with a Sánchez a month or so off peak form, but the hilly terrain should provide the team with plenty of chances for stage success.

Check out the complete start list here.

We picked our top favourites for the GC. Check it out below and let us know if you agree.

*** Richie Porte, Alberto Contador
** Andreas Klöden, Nairo Quintana, Samuel Sánchez
* Igor Antón, Beñat Intxausti, Damian Cunego, Ion Izagirre, Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson, Jurgen van den Broeck, Javier Moreno, Simon Spilak, Jean Christophe Péraud, Tejay van Garderen, Nicolas Roche, Peter Stetina, Andrew Talansky, Wouet Poels, Tom Jelte Slagter

Find stage profiles, interviews, live coverage and a lot more here.



Chris said...

I think it's a great field of riders. The Tour 2012 was a total fail with al those TT guys in the top 10. We don't need them in Basque Country. Only Valverde, Rodriguez and maybe Scarponi are missing imo. Evans/Basso/Horner are old and so 2010. Let's focus on the quality field a race as Poland or Eneco can only dream about.

Remo said...

Totally agree with Chris. There's quality in the start list and many who can win this race. I see Nairo Quintana e Benat Intxausti as potential winner. I think that Porte will struggle a bit in all those "repechos" and probably Contador is not at his best yet. Today i'm expecting Gorka attacking in the last"bajada" !


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