Vuelta a España 2022 favourites: Who will win the red jersey?
A look at the leading contenders for this year's Vuelta a España
The Tour de France may have only ended just last month, but already the cycling world is looking towards the next men's Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España.
The Vuelta is the third and final three-week race of the year and sees a wealth of stage racing talent vying for the red jersey every year.
Defending champion Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is confirmed to race following his crash and injury at the Tour in July, and enters the race as the outright favourite as he huntes for a fourth consecutive Vuelta title.
Read more: How to eat like a professional rider – Tips from EF Education EasyPost's team chef
As well as Roglič, who are the other favourites for this year's Vuelta a España? We take a look at the leading contenders and their chances of winning in Spain.
Odds correct at time of publication
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) - 9/4
Roglič has been the undisputed king of the Vuelta over recent years, winning the race a remarkable three times in a row. The Slovenian has been utterly dominant and will hope to add a fourth title to his palmarès this year.
This edition of the Vuelta looks like on of the most complicated for him to win however, with a strong line-up taking aim at stopping him and his recent fightback from the injury he suffered at the Tour de France.
Roglič's early exit from the Tour was specifically to allow him to recover from his crash injuries to get ready for the Vuelta, but it means his form is a complete unknown. Whether or not he'll have the ability to put in the ruthless displays he has in previous editions remains to be seen, but the defending champion remains the strong favourite despite his recent setbacks.
Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) - 5/1
Having established himself among the best one-day classics and week-long stage race riders in the world, Remco Evenepoel now needs to prove himself in a Grand Tour and enters the Vuelta in red hot form.
The 22-year-old has been at his prolific best this year, taking 11 wins already including Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the recent Clásica San Sebastián. His GC victories this season include the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of Norway, but he has struggled to make the same impact at WorldTour races like Tirreno-Adriatico, Itzulia Basque Country, and the Tour de Suisse, coming unstuck against more established climbers.
Whether or he can go all the way in a Grand Tour remains to be seen, having only ridden the Giro d'Italia so far which he abandoned on stage 18 at 27th on GC. The team time trial and the individual time trial on the Vuelta route though will favour the Belgian champion, and it could be there that he will make the most gains over everyone but Roglič.
Evenepoel has been touted as second favourite only to Roglič, but he'll have to overcome some other proven Grand Tour winners if he's to triumph at the Vuelta.
Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) - 13/2
Jai Hindley's palmarès may pale in comparison to Evenepoel's growing list of victories, bit the Australian's Giro d'Italia win in May was a mature and complete performance that demonstrated he is among the very best general classification riders around.
Whether his form is anywhere near what he had prior to the Giro d'Italia is difficult to tell, but he fought his way into the top-10 of the recent Vuelta a Burgos despite losing time on the final summit finish of the Spanish stage race.
Hindley's bid for a second Grand Tour win is made somewhat more complicated by the presence of Sergio Higuita in his team. The Colombian will no doubt want to finally have a crack at a three-week title, so will likely share a leadership role with Hindley.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grendiers) - 8/1
After losing out to Hindley at the Giro having led for so long, Richard Carapaz will want to make amends at the Vuelta by securing an overall victory.
A Giro winner, he's challenged before in Spain as well, finishing a close second behind Roglič in 2020, and he has the climbing prowess to make up for the losses he usually suffers in the time trials.
Carapaz's form entering the Vuelta is uncertain having only raced the fairly flat Tour of Poland in August since riding the Giro.
In what could be his last Grand Tour for the Ineos Grenadiers, Carapaz will no doubt be a contender given his previous form at the Vuelta.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) - 11/1
Like his former team-mate Evenepoel, Almeida has shown glimpses of what's possible at shorter stage races but has yet to maintain his form for three weeks.
Fourth at the 2020 Giro d'Italia, where he led the race for 15 days, remains his best result, though he was certainly a shoe-in for the podium this year had he not contracted Covid-19 before stage 18.
An accomplished time triallist, Almeida well versed in pacing himself on the long ascents as the punchier climbers go on the attack. He looks to be in his best climbing form yet having soared to an impressive victory on the final stage of the Vuelta a Burgos.
With Tadej Pogačar opting out of the Vuelta, Portuguese champion Almeida looks set to be the outright leader for UAE Team Emirates and has a strong team which should include Marc Soler, Rafał Majka, and Brandon McNulty, who all rode the Tour de France.
Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) - 12/1
Continuing his aversion to targeting the Tour de France overall, Simon Yates returns to the scene of his greatest Grand Tour triumph. The Briton won the Vuelta a España overall in 2018 and returns for the first time since then to try and repeat the feat.
His campaign for an overall win at the Giro once again fell short (although he did claim two stage wins), but Yates has returned to racing this summer with scintillating form.
Since competing again in July he's won the Prueba Villafranca - Ordiziako Klasika one-day race in Spain, along with a stage and the overall at the two-day Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, while he finished sixth at the Clásica San Sebastián.
Though he remains a longer shot than the likes of Evenepoel and Hindley, Yates has proven himself both as climber and as a time triallist in Grand Tours. If Roglič doesn't make the start line in the Netherlands, he could be the rider with the best all-round credentials on paper.
Wether he can convert that to a second overall victory looks difficult, but you can be guaranteed he'll go on the attack and almost certainly be in the mix for stage wins.
Last year's second place Enric Mas (Movistar) leads the list of other contenders at 18/1, though the Spaniard will certainly suffer compared to contenders higher up the list in the time trial.
Pavel Sivakov (at 28/1) is among the alternatives for Ineos Grenadiers should Carapaz falter. Despite winning in Burgos this month though, the Frenchman looks unlikely to be able to stay in contention for three-weeks. His team-mates include Spanish champion Carlos Rodríguez (28/1) and 2020 Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart (40/1), both of whom are more likely to slot into domestique roles.
The aforementioned Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) sits at 33/1, while former podium finisher Miguel Ángel López (Astana) is at better odds but remains a long shot at 18/1.