The 3rd and final Grand Tour of the year will get under way in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona with a Teams Time Trial. The whole of the three-week race will stay in the northern part of Spain finishing in Madrid. With no less than seven mountain or hill-top finishes, a Teams Time Trial to kick it off, and only the one individual Time Trial over 40km, it is in my view a course designed for the climbers.
Won this race back in 2008 and since then has focussed on Le Tour and or the Giro. He took out the Tour in 2007 and 09, the Giro d'Italia in 08 and of course last year before it was stripped of him due to a doping infringement. He is only just back from serving his sentence and raced in the very recent Eneco Tour in Holland and Belgium. Not the preparation he would have wanted, but he's ready to go.
Surprised all last year with his second place overall in this race. Was second in the Tour De France just a month ago behind teammate Bradley Wiggins and many believed he was the stronger man in the mountains. It will all depend how he has pulled up from the lap around France as to whether or not he can challenge for the overall.
The Spaniard was 3rd overall in the 2010 edition and has been in the top 10 on two other occasions. Had his best Grand Tour result in May at the Giro d'Italia finishing 2nd overall, only to be beaten on the final stage into Milan which was an individual Time Trial. This is his weak point.
Juan Jose Cobo
Had not done much until last year's race in terms of Grand Tour Results, Then he came out and won, surprising all! He has had a fairly quite year so far. Competed in the Tour De France with Team Movistar, where he looked to be finding his legs in the final week. I give him an outside chance.
Jurgen Van Den Broek
Finished 8th last year in the Vuelta and has twice finished 4th at the Tour De France in 2010 and this year. The mountain top finishes will hurt him a bit, but he can put in a decent Time Trial. His team says he goes to the Vuelta without pressure. Maybe he'll surprise.
Although he hasn't raced much, for me, Alberto Contador is the man to beat: he'll be fresh physically and mentally and if the form is good, really no one should get near him. Froome's chances will depend whether he's recovered since Le Tour. If so, you could back him to possibly beat Contador. Rodriguez has had one of his best seasons so far, thus is definitely worth something. Cobo as an outsider and Van Den Broek if you get lucky, just a little on either might be wise.