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2018 Vuelta a Espana Betting Preview, Odds and Prediction

On August 25th, the 73rd edition of the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) will begin its three week long grueling race with the beautiful country of Spain as the backdrop. This 3rd and final Grand Tour event of 2018, will begin in the town of Malaga with a time trial, then span 3,271 km before finishing in the capital of Madrid on September 16th. Along the way, there are 9 summit finishes, two time trials, numerous flat stages, and new challenges that the riders have never faced before.

TL;DR

Winner: Nairo Quintana (+550)

Betting Value: Fabio Aru (+1400) and Vincenzo Nibali (+3300)

The Longshot: Michal Kwiatkowski (+8000)

Head 2 Head:

  • Rigoberto Uran (+140) defeats Alejandro Valverde
  • Nairo Quintana (-151) defeats Miguel Anjel Lopez
  • Simon Yates (+100) defeats Richie Porte
  • Thibaut Pinot (-111) defeats Wilco Kelderman


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The 2017 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Froome will not be defending his title this year. Froome, also a 3-time runner up at this race, is taking off the Vuelta after a punishing time at the Giro and Tour de France. Alberto Contador will also not be in this race as he’s retired from pro cycling. Alberto will go down as one of the best Vuelta riders ever with 3 Tour of Spain victories. This is the first year since 2010, which Froome or Contador won’t be in the race.

Most of the Top 10 finishers from last year’s race will be back to try and capture the prestigious red jersey. Additionally, other big names like Peter Sagan, Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin, Fabio Aru and the Yates boys will also add some star power to this year’s Grand Tour.

In the end, cycling fans will definitely enjoy this 3-week race as the Unipublic organizers have packed each stage with explosiveness and compelling cycling action.

If you are looking to bet on the Vuelta a Espana, then you should check out our top cycling betting sites:
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2018 Vuelta a Espana Stage Overview

The following is an overview of this year’s Vuelta a Espana stages:

Stage Date Stage Routes Distance Stage Profile
1 Sat, Aug 25th Málaga to Málaga 5mi/8 km Ind. Time Trial (flat time trial)
2 Sun, Aug 26th Marbella to Caminito del Rey 102 mi/163.9 km Hilly (numerous hills and small climbs)
3 Mon, Aug 27th Mijas to Alhaurín de la Torre 113 mi/182.5 km Intermediate (Few climbs and flat finish)
4 Tues, Aug 28th Vélez-Málaga to Alfacar 101 mi/162 km Mountain (a few mountains with summit finish)
5 Wed, Aug 29th Granada to Roquetas de Mar 117 mi/188 km Hilly (lots of hills and flat finish)
6 Thurs, Aug 30th Huércal-Overa to San Javier 95 mi /153 km Hilly (more flat than hilly, flat finish)
7 Fri, Aug 31st Puerto Lumbreras to Pozo Alcón 113 mi/182 km Hilly (a few Cat 3 climbs)
8 Sat, Sept 1st Linares to Almadén 121 mi /195.5 km Hilly (more hills than flat, nothing steep)
9 Sun, Sept 2nd Talavera de la Reina to La Covatilla 121 mi /195 km Mountains (a few big climbs, summit finish)
  Mon, Sept 3rd Rest Day 1
10 Tues, Sept 4th Salamanca to Fermoselle 107 mi /172.5 km Flat (one of the flattest stages in the tour)
11 Wed, Sept 5th Mombuey to Ribeira Sacra/Luíntra 130 mi /208.8 km Hilly (long, hilly stage with several small climbs)
12 Thurs, Sept 6th Mondoñedo to Punta de Estaca de Bares 110 mi/177.5 km Hilly (small climbs with easy finish)
13 Fri, Sept 7th Candás to La Camperona 109 mi/175.5 km Mountains (massive summit finish)
14 Sat, Sept 8th Cistierna to Les Praeres de Nava 104 mi/167 km Mountains (several big climbs, small summit finish)
15 Sun, Sept 9th Ribera de Arriba to Lakes of Covadonga 115 mi/185.5 km Mountains (small hills with a steep summit finish)
  Mon, Sept 10th Rest Day 2
16 Tues, Sept 11th Santillana del Mar to Torrelavega 20 mi/32.7 km Individual time trial (flat with no significant hills)
17 Wed, Sept 12th Getxo to Oiz 103 mi/166.4 km Intermediate (5 climbs in last 1/3rd of stage, some steep ascents)
18 Thurs, Sept 13th Ejea de los Caballeros to Lleida 112 mi/180.5 km Flat (easy stage for the sprinters)
19 Fri, Sept 14th Lleida to Naturlandia (Andorra) 98 mi/157 km Intermediate (short, fast and huge mountain near the finish)
20 Sat, Sept 15th Escaldes-Engordany (Andorra) to Coll de la Gallina (Andorra) 66 mi/105.8 km Mountains (over 3,000 meters of climbing, 6 peaks)
21 Sun, Sept 16th Alcorcón to Madrid 70 mi/112.3 km Flat (traditional, flat finale)

2018 Vuelta a Espana Betting Odds: Outright Winner

The following Vuelta a Espana betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

  • Richie Porte +250
  • Simon Yates +300
  • Nairo Quintana +550
  • Alejandro Valverde +800
  • Miguel Angel Lopez +1000
  • Fabio Aru +1400
  • Rigoberto Uran +1600
  • Wilco Kelderman +2000
  • David de la Cruz +2500
  • Thibaut Pinot +2500
  • Emanuel Buchmann +3300
  • Enric Mas Nicolau +3300
  • George Bennett +3300
  • Richard Carapaz +3300
  • Vincenzo Nibali +3300
  • Steven Kruijswijk +4000
  • Daniel Martin +5000
  • Ilnur Zakarin +5000
  • Bauke Mollema +6600
  • Michael Woods +6600
  • Romain Bardet +6600
  • Michal Kwiatkowski +8000
  • Rafal Majka +8000
  • Sergio Luis Henao +8000
  • Tao Geoghegan Hart +8000
  • Davide Formolo +10000
  • Pello Bilbao +10000
  • Sam Oomen +10000

The Vuelta a Espana Betting Favorites

The following cyclists are the odds on favorite to win the 2018 Vuelta a Espana according to BetOnline:

Richie Porte (+250)

If there’s one rider that hasn’t lived up to his full potential in Grand Tours, it’s Porte. Heading into the 2018 Tour de France, Porte was a pre-race favorite and the one rider that could’ve really challenged Team Sky this year. Unfortunately, he crashed out in Stage 9. It marked the 2nd straight year that he crashed out. In 2016, Porte finished 5th in the TDF, which is the best Grand Tour finish of his career.

Porte last rode in the Vuelta back in 2012 and finished 68th. So, he doesn’t have a great deal of success as this Grand Tour. This will be Richie’s last Grand Tour with Team BMC as he’s supposed to be heading to Team Segafredo after his contract with Team BMC expires.

Porte will be without one of Team BMC’s top riders in Teejay van Garderen. With zero Grand Tour wins, competing after a bad crash at the TDF, and not having as strong of a team as other Vuelta squads, I find it hard to believe that Porte is the actual odds on favorite to win this race.

Simon Yates (+300)

Simon Yates will be the leader of Team Mitchelton-Scott and he will have his brother Adam Yates supporting him in a Yates family quest to win the Vuelta. Simon is getting this boost to the leadership position after having a very strong Giro this year with 3 stage wins. For nearly two weeks, he was the leader of the race before an epic physical meltdown in the final stages that saw him drop out of contention for any jersey.

Yates took off the Tour de France, partly in preparation for the Vuelta. Yates did have a respectable 7th place finish at the 2017 TDF. Additionally, he finished 6th at the 2016 Vuelta, but could only muster up a 44th place finish at the 2017 Tour of Spain.

Adam Yates cracked in the mountains during the Tour de France after heading into that Grand Tour as one of the pre-race GC favorites. He is now riding in the role as Simon’s top supporter. It will take both Yates brothers to combine their powers if they really want to battle other race favorites like the duo from Team Movistar, Porte, Nibali and Aru. Can the brothers finally get their first Grand Tour win?

Nairo Quintana(+550) & Alejandro Valverde (+800)

I list these two together because they’re teammates and I believe this duo will be a serious threat to win the Vuelta this year. Quintana last won this race in 2016, which was also the last time Team Movistar won a Grand Tour. Valverde won the Tour of Spain back in 2009 and also has 3 podium finishes since then. However, the 38-year old cyclist seems destined to support Quintana this year instead of being the sole leader himself. The only way Alejandro can go for the overall win is if Quintana crashes out or loses serious time early in the 3-week race.

Last year, Valverde finished 12th and Quintana wasn’t in the race. This year, Quintana skipped the Giro d’Italia and finished a disappointing 10th at the Tour de France. You can bet he will be determined to win the Vuelta for the 2nd time in the last 3 years. As for Valverde, he also skipped the Giro this year and finished 14th at the Tour de France.

Miguel Angel Lopez (+1000)

This is the 4th Grand Tour for Lopez and he’s definitely on the right trajectory to becoming a Vuelta winner. In 2018, Lopez finished 3rd at the Giro, which was an improvement from his 8th place finish at the Vuelta in 2017. Lopez didn’t race in this year’s Tour de France, so he will be fresh for the Vuelta. But, does that mean he will be a legit contender for the red jersey?

He did just compete in the Vuelta a Burgos earlier this month and took home a 2nd place finish. This smaller multi-stage race is a good warm up for the Tour of Spain. So, it appears that Lopez’s racing legs are ready for the 21-stage Vuelta a Espana.

The Best Vuelta a Espana Betting Value

Fabio Aru (+1400)

Aru is the 2015 Vuelta winner and will lead UAE Team Emirates in the third and final Grand Tour of the year. Aru crashed out of the Giro this year and didn’t compete at the Tour de France in July. So, the former Vuelta winner is rested and ready for this race.

Last year, Aru finished 13th at the Vuelta and didn’t race here in 2016. Prior to winning this race in 2015, he had a 5th place finish in 2014. He also had 5th place finish at the 2017 TDF and pulled off two podium finishes in the 2014 and 2015 Giros. It’s further proof that Aru is a legitimate threat to winning the Vuelta. Additionally, without the elite riders who dominate the steep mountains, like Froome, Aru has an even better chance to compete for the win.

I like Aru better than any of the Top 5 favorites other than Quintana. And, Aru has arguably the best “lieutenant” in the race with the exciting Dan Martin committed to helping Aru win. Martin finished 8th at the TDF in July and was easily the most aggressive rider of that Grand Tour. He’s one of my favorite riders and he will definitely help pace Aru through some of the tough mountain stages. I like this 1-2 combo.

Vincenzo Nibali (+3300)

Nibali is a 4-time Grand Tour winner with an additional 6 podium finishes that includes 3 runner ups. Nibali looked like one of the best riders at this year’s TDF, but crashed out on the famous Alpe d’Huez. He will lead Team Bahrain Merida at the Vuelta where he finished 2nd place last year to Froome.

Nibali has stated that he’s just looking to win stages at the Vuelta, which is also what he said about the TDF. But, when he was high up in the standings, Nibali changed his tactics and was looking for at least a podium finish. I believe that could happen in the Vuelta as well. At the time of Nibali’s crash, he was 4th in the standings.

Ion Izaguirre will get the nod to compete for the overall GC due to Nibali still being in what he calls the “recovery process.” However, I’m not counting out “the Shark of Messina” as he could end up rounding into form and becoming a threat to the overall leaders.

The Longshot to Win the 2018 Vuelta a Espana

Michal Kwiatkowski at +8000 is not only my longshot pick to win the Vuelta, but he’s also one of my favorite cyclists in the world. And, that’s largely due to his efforts in helping out Team Sky leaders in the Grand Tours. He was a machine at this year’s TDF and helped Thomas secure the overall victory. Last year, he also helped Froome win the TDF. This will be the first time he’s competed in the Vuelta since he crashed out in 2016.

Kwiatkowski can hang with these riders in the mountains and is looking in good form as he just won the Tour of Poland, beating out Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot. Aru finished 8th in that race.

Like Dan Martin, Kwiatkowski is a “punchy” rider and there are several stages suited for his cycling skills. It will be interesting to see if Michal will be successful without having to help leaders like Froome or Thomas win a Grand Tour. As for now, I like him as a dark horse for this race.

The 2018 Vuelta a Espana Top 3 Finish Betting Odds

The following betting odds are for riders finishing in the Top 3 at the Vuelta a Espana. These odds are courtesy of Betway:

  • Richie Porte -120
  • Simon Yates -111
  • Nairo Quintana +100
  • Miguel Angel Lopez +180
  • Alejandro Valverde +333
  • Rigoberto Uran +550
  • Thibaut Pinot +550
  • Wilco Kelderman +550
  • David de la Cruz +700
  • Fabio Aru +700
  • Vincenzo Nibali +700
  • Emanuel Buchmann +1000
  • Richard Carapaz +1200
  • Enric Mas Nicolau +1400
  • George Bennett +1400
  • Ilnur Zakarin                 +1400
  • Michal Kwiatkowski +1400
  • Steven Kruijswijk +1400
  • Adam Yates +1600
  • Daniel Martin +1700

Without restating my opinions from above, there are a few riders who I really like to finish in the Top 3.

Simon Yates (-111): I don’t think Yates will win the Vuelta as he’s yet to prove that he can beat the other elite riders on the circuit in a Grand Tour. However, I do think Yates could compete for a 3rd place finish as he did perform well at the Giro this year and he took off the Tour. Also, he looks ready after his Tour of Poland runner-up finish.

Nairo Quintana (+100): I see no reason why Nairo can’t get at least a Top 3 finish at the Vuelta. He’s motivated and surrounded by a top team. Additionally, he doesn’t have to compete with Team Sky’s Froome or Thomas.

Aru (+700): I think Aru has a good shot at a podium finish. He’s also on a strong team, has a solid Grand Tour resume and will have Dan Martin as his #1 sidekick.

Ilnur Zakarin (+1400): Watch out for Zakarin. I didn’t include him in the section above, but he does have a shot at finishing at least in the Top 3. Ilnur was 9th at the TDF this year and 3rd at the Vuelta last year. He also has a 5th place finish at the Giro last year.

Michal Kwiatkowski (+1400): Not only is he my longshot to win the Vuelta, I also like him as a longshot to finish in the Top 3. Kwiatkowski has the potential to be a top GC rider, but will definitely need to limit his losses in the high mountains.

Vuelta a Espana Head to Head Matchups

One of my favorite Vuelta a Espana prop bets is the head to head matchups. The following are a few matchups that I like:

Alejandro Valverde (-200) vs Rigoberto Uran (+140)

Even when Valverde isn’t racing as the team leader, he still performs well. In this matchup, he’s a big favorite over Uran who is returning to the Vuelta for the first time since 2014. Uran has never won a Grand Tour, but he does have 2 runner ups at the Giro and 1 runner up at the TDF, which was last year. I’m a fan of Valverde and he will be strong, but Uran is the team leader of EF Education First-Drapac and he has a solid team around him. I like his odds of +140 and I think he will edge out Valaverde who also has one eye on the Worlds.

Nairo Quintana (-151) vs Miguel Anjel Lopez (+110)

Quintana’s experience and climbing should be the difference in this matchup. Valverde will help lead him in the mountains and Nairo should easily win this prop bet over the less experienced Lopez.

Richie Porte (-138) vs Simon Yates (+100)

I like Yates’ odds here and I don’t believe Porte will beat him. Until Richie actually finishes a Grand Tour, and doesn’t crash out, I’m not taking him on any bet. Yates has a solid team, and his brother helping him, where Porte’s Team BMC isn’t as strong in my opinion. I think Yates has a shot at a Top 3 finish and Porte will be lucky to finish.

Thibaut Pinot (-111) vs Wilco Kelderman (-125)

Pinot is one of France’s top riders and climbers. He was in 3rd overall at the Giro this year before falling ill and having to abandon the race. He didn’t compete at the Tour de France in July, but he did finish 3rd at the Tour de Pologne. Pinot last raced at the Vuelta in 2014, but ended up dropping out due to heatstroke.

Kelderman has been snake bitten with injuries that kept him out of the Giro and the TDF this year. He was supposed to be one of Tom Domoulin’s top supporters at the TDF, but was unable to compete. Wilco is all healed up, but still trying to fully recover and get his racing legs back. He will lead Team Sunweb at the Vuelta as Domoulin won’t race in his 3rd Grand Tour this year. However, the team stated that they’re just going to focus on stage wins and not put any pressure on Kelderman to win this Grand Tour. With that said, I’m going with Pinot in this one.

Other Vuelta a Espana Jerseys

Like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana has multiple jerseys available for different competitions. Unfortunately, as of the writing of this article, there weren’t any odds for the points, mountain or youth classification. However, I will say this, with Peter Sagan in the race, I expect him to win the points classification with ease. There are a few stages that suit Sagan perfectly. As for the mountains, there are several contenders for this jersey. Without any betting odds, I’m going to refrain from picking. Same with the youth competition as well.

The 2018 Vuelta a Espana Race Winner

As I mentioned above, I’m not confident in Richie Porte at all. He hasn’t finished a Grand Tour in two years and he’s never even won a Grand Tour. His best place finish was 5th at the 2016 TDF, which was the last Grand Tour he successfully completed. I’m not confident in Simon Yates winning a Grand Tour despite his strong showing in the Giro. I also don’t think Lopez, Uran or Kelderman will contend for the win.

In my opinion, this year’s Vuelta is Nairo’s to lose. As much as I want to see Nibali or Kwiatkowski win the race, I don’t believe they can hang with Quintana in the mountains when he’s in top form. Nairo has taken off from racing since the Tour de France, where he finished a disappointing 10th place. He’ll be extra motivated to prove his worth. Quintana is going to have a tough challenge with the time trials especially against Porte. But, that’s assuming Richie Porte will even survive the entire 3-weeks.

If Aru comes into the Vuelta in top form, I believe he’s one of the only riders that has a team strong enough to compete with Movistar’s two-headed monster of Quintana and Valverde. Ultimately, Quintana should be able to get enough time in the mountains to lock up this Grand Tour before we even sniff the final time trial.

Oh, and let’s not forget, there will be plenty of Peter Sagan to entertain us each and every stage. Because, there’s nobody else who can entertain us on and off the bike like Sagan.

Rick Rockwell :