Vuelta a Espana 2013: Bold Predictions for Race's Remaining Stages
This weekend will bear witness to the closing phases of this year’s Vuelta a Espana as the world’s finest road cyclists descend on the Spanish capital in climactic fashion.
Heading into the penultimate stage, Christopher Horner holds the slightest of leads over Vincenzo Nibali, but matters are bound to fluctuate once more.
Blazin' Saddles illustrated just how interesting the current look of leaderboard really is:
Will Nibali win two Grand Tours this season or will his path be blocked by an old man? Unbelievable scenes in Spain.— Blazin' Saddles (@saddleblaze) September 12, 2013
Saturday’s mountain ride from Aviles to Alto de L’Angliru is the last of its kind in this year’s competition, meaning that climbers from all portions of the standings will be making that final run at the lead.
With only a couple of rides left, here are a few predictions of just how things will shape up in one of Europe’s premier racing events.
Alejandro Valverde Claims Stage 20
Currently third in the overall standings, Alejandro Valverde has been somewhat of a background figure in this year’s tour, always maintaining pace with the leading pack but never quite shining in his own right.
At one of the last opportunities in this Tour of Spain, the native will impress at Stage 20, well-suited to the demands of the trip up Alto De L’Angliru.
The Radioshack, Movistar and Katusha teams will be collaborating in an effort to put the breaks on Nibali as they make their final ascent of the competition, just as was the case in 2011 when the Italian lost two minutes and 37 seconds to Juanjo Cobo.
Valverde will be at the front of that Movistar movement, and not only can the 33-year-old get up to high speeds in the climb, but he can maintain them, too.
Christopher Horner Faces Downhill Struggle
Earlier this week, it was announced that Fabian Cancellara would be withdrawing from the Vuelta a Espana in order to concentrate on his preparation for the UCI World Race Championships, per Cycling News.
Without one of his strongest Radioshack Leopard teammates alongside him, Horner has an even tougher challenge in holding off the opposition than he already faced.
The American is bound to find it difficult to overcome Nibali on Stage 21, but that task is made all the more sizable without the aid of Cancellara.
Vincenzo Nibali Will Regain His Tour Throne
In the end, the only prediction that matters is who wins and who loses.
Despite how tempted one might be to believe in the cause of the underdog, it’s still difficult to look past this year’s Giro d’Italia winner, Vincenzo Nibali, who sits just three seconds behind Horner going into Stage 20.
It’s there that the Italian is bound to dart for a new lead before then showing his pedigree on the more level trip into Madrid come Sunday.
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