Quintana singles out Roglic as Vuelta favourite

By Sports Desk August 23, 2019

Movistar's Nairo Quintana believes Jumbo-Visma rider Primoz Roglic is the favourite to claim the Vuelta a Espana crown.

A number of big names, including Geraint Thomas, Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and 2018 Vuelta champion Simon Yates, have opted to skip the event, with the upcoming World Championships seemingly taking precedent, while Chris Froome is still recovering from the injuries which kept him out of the Tour de France.

Quintana – riding for home team Movistar – has also been instilled as a favourite, alongside team-mate Alejandro Valverde and Jumbo-Visma's Roglic.

And Quintana sees Roglic as the rider who will offer the biggest threat to Movistar, who will be without the injured Richard Carapaz.

"I think [Primoz] Roglic is the big favourite," 2016 Vuelta champion Quintana told Omnisport ahead of the first stage in Alicante.

"[Jumbo-Vista] will be at the top of the table from the beginning after the team time trial and he'll be our biggest rival there."

Roglic, though, insisted he has not let the tag of being the favourite have an impact upon his preparations.

"I know that many consider me the favourite," Roglic, who is making his maiden Vuelta appearance, told Marca.

"I really don't know if I am, but I come well prepared. I do not look at rivals. I only think of myself and I have a great team, I count on that."

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    With five mountain ranges and only one time trial - on the penultimate stage - the course would seem to suit climbers such as French riders Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe, as well as Egan Bernal, Froome's Team INEOS colleague and the reigning champion.

    Froome, who missed the 2019 Tour having suffered fractures to his femur, elbow and ribs in June, noted how tough the 21-stage course was for 2020 while admitting it should suit most of the challengers for the yellow jersey.

    "It's a brutal, brutal course, but good," said four-time Tour de France champion Froome.

    "I think it's going to be a really explosive race and very much in favour of the [best climbers of] mountains. But I think that's great, it gives a lot of opportunities for the general classification to be played out.

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    In Froome's absence last year, defending champion Geraint Thomas was expected to be INEOS' lead rider, but it was Bernal who surprisingly emerged to claim a first title.

    The team could have three Tour champions on the line at the Grand Depart in Nice next June, yet Froome is more concerned with focusing on his fitness before considering his leadership credentials.

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    Riders will be go through the five mountain ranges of the Alps, Pyrenees, Vosges, Jura and Massif Central after the Grand Depart in Nice on June 27.

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    Route for the 2020 Tour de France

    June 27 - Stage 1: Nice - Nice (156km)

    June 28 - Stage 2: Nice - Nice (187km)

    June 29 - Stage 3: Nice - Sisteron (198km)

    June 30 - Stage 4: Sisteron - Orcieres-Merlette (157km)

    July 1 - Stage 5: Gap - Privas (183km)

    July 2 - Stage 6: Le Teil - Mont Aigoual (191km)

    July 3 - Stage 7: Millau - Lavaur (168km)

    July 4 - Stage 8: Cazeres-sur-Garonne - Loudenvielle (140km)

    July 5 - Stage 9: Pau - Laruns (154km)

    July 6 - Rest day in Charente-Maritime

    July 7 - Stage 10: Ile d'Oleron - Ile de Re (170km)

    July 8 - Stage 11: Chatelaillon-Plage - Poitiers (167km)

    July 9 - Stage 12: Chauvigny - Sarran (218km)

    July 10 - Stage 13: Chatel-Guyon - Puy Mary (191km)

    July 11 - Stage 14: Clermont-Ferrand - Lyon (197km)

    July 12 - Stage 15: Lyon - Grand Colombier (175km)

    July 13 - Rest day in Isere

    July 14 - Stage 16: La Tour-du-Pin - Villard-de-Lans (164km)

    July 15 - Stage 17: Grenoble - Meribel (168km)

    July 16 - Stage 18: Meribel - La Roche-sur-Foron (168km)

    July 17 - Stage 19: Bourg-en-Bresse - Champagnole (160km)

    July 18 - Stage 20: Lure - La Planche des Belles Filles (36km individual time trial)

    July 19 - Stage 21: Mantes-la-Jolie - Paris (122km)

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    Team INEOS rider Froome is back in the saddle again after sustaining fractures to his right femur, elbow and ribs during a high-speed crash in June at the Criterium du Dauphine. 

    The 34-year-old, a four-time winner of the Tour de France, has posted training pictures on Twitter, including a black-and-white shot on Monday that was taken by Team INEOS colleague Michal Kwiatkowski.

    "There is light at the end of the tunnel," wrote Froome, who is scheduled to make his racing comeback at the Saitama Criterium exhibition event in October.

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