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2013 Vuelta a Espana Betting Preview - Points, King of the Mountains and Teams

Unlike the Tour de France, the winner of the points classification in the Vuelta is usually one of the leading GC contender. There are few points for intermediate sprints and the majority come at the finishes, with no emphasis on the flat stages as in the Tour.

The perfect example of this was last year where John Degenkolb won five stages, yet still only finished fourth in the points classification. In other words, we can rule out all the sprinters and non-climbers. The last two winners have been Alejandro Valverde and Bauke Mollema, and with eleven mountain finishes, it seems likely that we will see one of the leading contenders winning this jersey.

The favourite is Joaquim Rodriguez, just ahead of Alejandro Valverde. These two battled for the jersey last year with the fight going down to the final climb of the Vuelta. Lurking just back are Vincenzo Nibali and the Colombian pair of Carlos Betancur and Sergio Henao. It is unlikely that we will see a winner from outside this small group – they are all riders that are capable of winning mountain stages and have the consistency to compete on any type of uphill finish. Carlos Betancur’s seeming inability to actually win a stage counts against him and I am not entirely convinced about Sergio Henao’s consistency to win a jersey such as this. Nibali looks a tempting price with his ability to ride away on the climbs, while Rodriguez and Valverde are certainly justifiable favourites, although the prices need second thoughts.

Joaquim Rodriguez
Joaquim Rodriguez is the favourite to win the King of the Mountain jersey

It is rare that a leading contender wins the mountain jersey though. Unlike the Tour, there are no double-points on mountain finishes, which means that the winner will likely be involved in plenty of breakaways. Simon Clarke won with 63 points last year to end David Moncoutie’s four year domination of the jersey. So, we are looking for riders that are likely to be attacking climbers.

Amets Txurruka has been well-backed and is currently the second favourite. He has won mountain jerseys in stage races before and will be looking to get plenty of exposure for his Caja Rural team. He has even indicated he might go for this jersey. However, at just 7/1, we have to look past him.

Last year’s winner, Simon Clarke, is available at 18/1. He was involved in a couple of breakaways in the Tour de France and will certainly look to challenge for this jersey. Orica do not really have any serious GC contenders, so he will be free to go out and fight for mountain points and it would be dangerous to write him off.

We saw Mikel Nieve fighting for the mountain jersey in the Tour de France and he might target the jersey here. With the financial problems at Euskaltel, the riders will be wanting to get maximum exposure and he is certainly able in the mountains. At 25/1, it is worth a second look, although it depends whether he is close enough to the leaders to be allowed to go away.

A possible outsider could be Tomasz Marcyznski. He finished 13th last year to demonstrate his ability and Vacansoleil are another team that will be desperate for plenty of exposure. They have brought a strong team, but they may well still look to get involved in breakaways, so at 33/1, he is worth considering.
Moving onto the team classification, there are a number of possible winners. Here, we are looking for a team with three strong contenders for the general classification.

Saxo-Tinkoff are the favourites as they come into the race with a strong squad. With Roman Kreuziger, Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche, they have three realistic contenders for the top 10, while Chris Anker Sorensen is a reasonable fourth rider if needed. They won the team classification in the Tour de France and will be fancied to add this title as well.

Saxo-Tinkoff look valid favourites to win the team classification

Euskaltel are just behind them with a team including Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton and Mikel Nieve. However, I am not convinced that any of them will be involved high up in the GC – they just do not have the consistency in a three week race - so I am happy to pass them over.

Movistar and Astana follow and both have strong squads. With Alejandro Valverde, Benat Intxausti and Eros Capecchi as well as several other decent climbers, they are worth watching, especially given how the Spanish always perform well in this race. Astana have Vincenzo Nibali, backed up by Kangert, Tiralongo and Fuglsang. However, I suspect that they will concentrate on giving everything for Nibali, rather than focus on this classification.

Moving onto some of the slightly bigger prices, AG2R have the trio of Betancur, Pozzovivo and Nocentini, who are all very capable in the mountains, but I have slight doubts about some of them in a three week race. Sky have the strong Colombian pair of Henao and Uran, but there is no obvious third rider. One of Cataldo and Puccio will probably be that man – if they can rediscover their Giro form, they could be in with a shout, but that is a maybe. Katusha have Rodriguez and Moreno, but again lack that third rider.

One interesting outsider could be Radioshack with their experienced trio of Horner, Kiserlovski and Zubeldia. While they are all arguably past their primes, they are all still very capable and will likely have men in the breakaways as well.

Recommended Bets

Joaquim Rodriguez to win Points Classification @ 7/2
Vincenzo Nibali to win Points Classification @ 6/1
Mikel Nieve to win Mountains Classification E/W @ 25/1
Tomasz Marcyznski to win Mountains Classification E/W @ 33/1
Saxo-Tinkoff to win Team Classification @ 5/2

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