Written by Yuri of Yuri SuperTeam
Preview Vuelta de los Castillos
Bienvenidos a Sagunto for yet another edition of the Spanish Tour “Vuelta de los Castillos”! This edition we’re celebrating the 40 anniversary of the Tour and the lineup is super strong! Still, this edition won’t count with the defending champion Shu Jin who this year decided to skip the Tour. This way Shu won’t be able to try his 3rd win in a row, a feat only achieved by Farruco Alonso back in editions 21 to 23. Farruco is incidentally also the record holder of wins in the Vuelta with 5 wins (editions 14, 17, 21, 22 and 23). Tobiasz Lukaszewicz and Dolf Latomme round up the podium with 3 wins each.
Despite not having the defending champion, this Tour will have 4 of the last Top9 riders (Julian De Ruiter – 2nd, Lennard Staal – 3rd, Kody Truman – 4th and Emilio Giofriola – 5th). Only Lennard has been confirmed to be supporting another rider during the Tour, so we can expect the other 3 riders to fight for the final GC once again.
As usual stages 2 (Climbing), 4 (Climbing) and 6 (TT) will be decisive while stages 1 (allround) and 5 (Hilly) might also help deciding a couple of seconds. Is hard to choose the hardest stage out of them, but if you have a very bad day during Stage 4 you can expect to lose around 5’15” just on that stage. That is something Boban Karcev can remember after joining the gruppeto on that stage last season while being on the green Jersey (YC Leader). So, we can expect a lot of excitement on the King Stage this season, too.
Shall we move to the contenders?
Alpine ( Kody Truman) - *****
Probably the easiest rider to start with. Kody has since the beginning being marked as the rider to beat this season. Will he handle the pressure? After a 7th, 8th, 4th and 3rd place, it’s time to see if he can also win the Tour!
Matrix team ( Dmitry Salko) - *****
Being in the possession of a wildcard after the amazing performance from Lennard Staal last season, Thomas Anderson was expected to bring Lennard back to try to improve from his 3rd place last season. Still, Dmitry was the chosen one and immediately the alarm bells from the other teams started ringing! Will Dimitry become the biggest upset this season?
AK Pro Race ( Lech Kope?) - *****
Each Tour this journalist chooses a rider as his “protegee”. For Vuelta, that rider is Lech.
El Pato brings homeboy Lech to the Tour to try to surprise everyone. He didn’t win anything special yet, but at 28 years, it’s time for him to shine! Is he ready? His team truly looks ready! That’s why I rank him so high. Now it’s time for him to prove I’m not wrong.
Team Oasis ( Sergei Tereshchenko) - ****
All around the chats in OCM, Sergei and Kody were the top favorites to win the Vuelta. After the news that Dmitry would join, the discussion became a 3-horse fight. Still, I think Sergei doesn’t fit the Tour profile as well as his nearest rivels. Time for Team Oasis to prove me wrong once again!
Drapeau Noir ( Emilio Giofriola) - ****
Emilio is a known face on Vuelta’s Top9, so a safe bet is to say we’ll see him there once again this season. Alongside with Alpine, manager Delion brough the strongest team in support of him, so if Emilio has the right legs, he might just well fit perfectly on the final podium!
Spin Doctors ( Bernard Cowell) - ****
A very late sign up by the British team Spin Doctors, brings Bernard in a good shape to tackle the Tour. Many question if the pressure of his late sign up might be too much for Bernard chances on this tour, but manager Oli seems to have things under control targeting a win in the Tour. Does this team have what it takes? This journalist thinks not, and Bernard should be a good bet for a Top5 and maybe, maybe a podium. Only time will tell.
Holwerda Cycling ( Julian De Ruiter) - ***
Strong team and last season’s 2nd place in TF but still not very high on the predictions this season. What the hell does Julian needs more? Well, this journalist thinks that last season’s performance was a lucky shot that Julian would hardly repeat this season with the competition he’s facing. Also, the fact that manager Frank Holwerda promised the youngster Hannes Traa that he would be fighting for the YC and then backed off might bring some discomfort inside the team. Will they handle it, or crack under the pressure?
Vaduz ( Gong Ziyi) - ***
A manager with ambitions, Friedrich promises us some fun over the 6 stages with Gong especially on the mountains. For me, he would need a stronger team to be able to deploy some bigger fireworks. Due to that, I must agree with his manager and expect him to fight for the Top9, more seems impossible to me.
Willunga Hill ( Christopher Koopu) -
Christopher chances are easy to describe. He’s a strong contender on a weak team. Team Willunga Hill brings one of the weakest (if not the weakest) GC-Teams for the Vuelta. 3 climbers, 1 hiller and 1 TT is not the support Christopher needed. Still, is he able to fight for the Top9?
Team WonderDee ( Ørjan Nyhus) - **
The first remark this journalist wants to make is “thank God they’re not going for the YC!”. Ørjan is lacking TF to be a major threat to the other GC contenders and his team’s power is a downside, too. Manager Christian pointed out that Bruno Filipczak might get a shot on specific stages and in my opinion, that would indeed be the best solution for them.
Equipo Easy On ( David Hornbostel) - **
As we all know, this David is in fact a Golias, a monster climber in the modern era! And you guys know what, he’s TF ready, so the question is where is he going to use it? Despite that, a Tour doesn’t consist only in climbs, so David would suffer a lot on the TT Stage. Will Manager Eli trigger his TF for the Vuelta?
LoleursLovers ( Koch Sándor) - **
Not much to say about Koch to be honest. No TF and a good but not amazing team backing him up doesn’t sound like a good enough mix for a GC contender. His manager isn’t opening his game with us, so either he has something we don’t know, or he’s afraid to tell out loud that Koch chances on a good GC result are very slim.
MrSjaakBraak ( Curro Torrens) - *
Manager Arie Bombarie brings youngster Curro to fight for the YC without TF. Still, if you fight for the YC, you can also go for the GC. Curro will have a strong team backing him up, but with the current competition on the Tour, it will be hard for him to get into the final Top9.
Yuri SuperTeam ( Pascoal Baptista) - *
Another somewhat unknown rider for me, Pascoal is the gun manager Yuri wants to shoot on the Tour. For the GC, seems impossible despite his strong team backing him up. Problem here is that Pascoal won’t have top form. This will be the season this youngster will have to study this Tour and maybe aim the YC on the next season.
A special note to David Engalychev (DeRodeLantaarn) who due to a fall on his last preparation’s race before the Tour suffered an injury and won’t be able to fight for a good placing on the GC. He was ranked with 3* before this news.