Primoz Roglic will be “incredibly hard to beat” at this year’s La Vuelta as long as he “can stay on his bike” according to Eurosport cycling expert Robbie McEwen.
Roglic has had just two weeks of training ahead of the final Grand Tour of the year after the injuries he sustained at the Tour de France, which forced him to abandon early.
Despite the difficult preparation, the Jumbo-Visma rider is still tipped as the favourite by many including McEwen, although Simon Yates also got a mention.
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“I want to say Simon Yates [can win La Vuelta] but the amount of time-trialling has me doubting that,” McEwen told Eurosport.
“Roglic could still do it. It's hard to know. I know he, as well as his team, will have left no stone unturned in his recovery.
“They are so meticulous, they've got everything at their disposal and if he's starting, it means he's ready to start it. He will be really good.
“For me, what's always suited Roglic with the Vuelta is its lack of complexity when it comes to the course and how hard fought it is to be at the front as opposed to the Tour de France. It's a less nervous race.
“It's a lot of big wide-open roads, big Spanish straights, just everything open. The thing that could bring him undone is the early part of the race in Holland because the thing with Roglic is that if he can stay on his bike, he's incredibly hard to beat.”
Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley (Bora–Hansgrohe) and Ineos Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz will also be among the leading contenders at La Vuelta, which begins this Friday on August 19 in Utrecht.
McEwen is also interested to see how Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) goes as he is yet to complete a three-week race.
“I'm curious to see how Remco Evenepoel goes in this Vuelta compared to the Giro that he rode [in 2021], and see what lessons he's learned and how he's developed,” said McEwen. “If he can make progression as a GC rider.
“Roglic goes in as a favourite no matter that he had an injury and he's coming back [and I'm backing] Yates to redeem himself after the Giro, when he went out with a knee injury.
“But I'm also curious how Jai Hindley can go now with this confidence he has now as a Grand Tour winner from the Giro.”
Jai Hindley con il Trofeo Senza Fine al Giro d'Italia 2022
Image credit: Getty Images
There are numerous outsiders to challenge for the Red Jersey, including Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen), who had a breakthrough at the 2021 Tour de France when he won a stage on his way to fourth place in the overall GC.
The Australian was forced to pull out of this year’s Tour after a crash on Stage 2 proved too painful after a week of racing.
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McEwen believes O’Connor will be battling for a top three spot at La Vuelta.
“I'm also really curious about Ben O'Connor because he was so ready for the Tour” continued McEwen.
“I reckon he's been able to turn things around pretty quickly, and get himself going for the Vuelta, and I think he's a definite podium.”
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Stream La Vuelta live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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