For each stage of La Vuelta, the Rouleur panel of ‘experts’ will give their picks for the following day’s race. Top tipster Cycling Mole, meanwhile, will dismantle our choices and give his own prediction for the likely winner. In a change to last year’s rules, selection’s don’t have to be unique. Who’s going to take risks? Who will play it safe? Most importantly of all, who will come out on top?
Stage 1: 13.4km team time-trial, Salinas de Torrevieja-Torrevieja
Ian Cleverly: Mitchelton-Scott
Three times winners in the TTT this season, the Aussie-based squad should enough firepower here in Torrevieja to start their Vuelta with a bang. Not the strongest line up they could have fielded, but still sufficient to be in the mix. Tour de France winners Jumbo-Visma look worrying though…
Andy McGrath: Jumbo-Visma
It’s hard to look past the flying Dutchmen (though actually, their Vuelta team contains three, none of whom are renowned for TT ability), given their Tour performance and a quantity of big engines that would put Thomas & Friends to shame. Damage limitation for the rest, methinks. Team Sunweb will surprise a few observers with their ride.
Nick Christian: Jumbo-Visma
Far and away the best set of individual time trialists at this race, we saw in Brussels what they can do as a herd. The EF lot are the next best set of testers and if I was less risk averse – or less fussed about winning – I might put my money on pink. But I’m not.
Miles Baker Clarke: Jumbo-Visma
If memory serves me, BMC won the last TTT at the Vuelta by a decent margin, though that team is fractured and not in full strength under its new livery. Jumbo, however, have been setting the discipline alight all year and have several enormous engines to ignite over the 13km ish distance.
Ben Ward: Movistar
They give each other massages, that sort of unity won’t go unrewarded in a TTT, right? Right?
Eurosport’s Rob Hatch: Jumbo-Visma
A TTT to start around one of the oldest holiday resorts on the Spanish coast. The Brits abroad from Ineos stand a chance, but although usually up there, they don’t often win TTT’s in Grand Tours. Jumbo-Visma are the stars of the discipline this season, and although maybe missing a couple of TT motors from this lineup, something tells me I should still back them. Expect Deceuninck, EF & Sunweb to also be in the mix.
So, the good people at Rouleur have asked me back for another shot at Top Mañana. For those that missed it last year, the staff at Rouleur get to pick who wins each stage of the Vuelta, and I slaughter their picks before telling you who will actually win. I know what you’re thinking, who am I?
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m the CyclingMole, the holy moley, cycling predictor extraordinaire, I’m kind of a big deal. What you should be asking is who are they? What do writers know about predicting bike races? If you were reading last year, you’ll know that they failed miserably. This year they’ve decided to change things up a bit and bring in a big hitter, none other than Mr Rob Hatch, cycling commentating royalty. We’ll see if the king of pronunciation knows anything about the prediction business, can he pick a winner as easy as he can say Remco Evenepoel? Strap yourself in, this is going to be fun.
The stage 1 picks are dominated by Jumbo-Visma, no wonder. The Dutch squad start as the overwhelming favourite, as it’s a discipline they excel in. Ben’s pick of Movistar is a bit left field, but they can never be ruled out when riding on home roads. It’s long been suspected they get a friendly moto bike to help pace them round the route. Ian’s gone with Mitchelton-Scott, which is an awful pick. The Aussies have a good record in TTTs, but this isn’t a squad that will threaten to win this stage. What surprises me is that no one has gone for Ineos or QuickStep, the only teams I think can actually threaten the Dutchies.
My Pick – Jumbo-Visma
Rob Hatch will be commentating on the 2019 Vuelta a España in the English language for Eurosport International