Each stage, 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. Who will win?
Stage 1: 8km time-trial, Malaga-Malaga
Rohan Dennis – BMC
It’s hard to see anyone in this field coming close to Dennis on a stage like this. Barring mechanicals or crashes, the Australian is a shoo-in.
Victor Campenaerts – Lotto-Soudal
If Dennis has an off-day, the in-form European champion will gladly swoop in to take the spoils. Frankly, he needs a Grand Tour stage win so he won’t be remembered as “that guy who asked for a date by writing a message on his chest during a bike race”.
Michal Kwiatkowski – Team Sky
He might be better suited to a longer TT but Kwiatkowski did win the Dauphiné prologue, so he’s clearly got a decent short game as well. Besides, even though I called “dibs” I was denied my Campenaerts call, so I’ll have to take what I can get…
Jonathan Castroviejo – Team Sky
I’m sticking my neck out here because his time trialling is generally better over longer distances. But Jonathan Castroviejo is in good shape and on home soil in the Spanish TT champ’s skinsuit. And with Sky’s hierarchy a little looser going into the Vuelta than say the Tour, there may be a sniff of opportunity for him.
José Goncalves – Katusha-Alpecin
He took fourth in the Giro d’Italia prologue and will most definitely want to better that performance. That and he was the last good time triallist left to be chosen…
Ian got the first pick and he’s taken the big dog. It is very difficult to think that anyone can beat the Aussie. A little word of warning: despite an easy looking profile, we do have a difficult little climb in the middle of the stage.
Andy goes with Campenaerts, a rider who rarely wins TTs in stage races, he has just one success to his name. Nick’s got Kwiatkowski, a sensible pick after his win in the prologue of the Dauphiné. Hugo had a late change of heart, which was just as well really. His original selection was Porte, a pick that left me shaking my head. He’s now changed to Castroviejo, who is a much better option, but not the winner.
Hannah had the final pick, but she ignored the big names of Boom, Kelderman and Valverde. Instead she’s gone with Gonçalves, a rider who’s never won a TT, says it all really!
My Pick – Rohan Dennis