On Monday, March 25th, the 99th edition of the Volta a Catalunya gets underway as some of the world’s top cyclists converge on Spain to win this highly coveted 7 stage race. The Volta a Catalunya is the 4th oldest cycling race still in existence behind the Tour de France, Tour of Belgium and Giro d’Italia. It even predates the third Grand Tour race – Vuelta a España.
The 2018 champion Alejandro Valverde is back to defend his crown. And, according to most cycling betting sites, Valverde is the odds on favorite to win this race. However, this year, Alejandro will have some stiff competition as some of the sport’s top stars have decided to enter the race like Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana, the Yates brothers, Chris Froome, and Dan Martin.
The impressive ensemble of former Grand Tour winners has made this year’s Volta a Catalunya a must-see event.
Volta a Catalunya Race Preview
The race itself is 7 stages long and will begin in Calella for the 8th straight year. After 7 grueling days and 1,179 kilometers, the cyclists will find reprieve and jubilation as they come to the traditional finish line in Barcelona. The following is a preview of the upcoming Volta a Catalunya race:
|Stage 1 (3/25)||Calella to Calella||164km||Mountain – several Cat 1 climbs|
|Stage 2 (3/26)||Mataro to Sant Feliu de Guixols||180km||Hilly with 3 Category climbs|
|Stage 3 (3/27)||Sant Feliu de Guixols to Vallter||179km||Climb Vallter 2000m (Summit)|
|Stage 4 (3/28)||Llanars to La Molina||150km||Mountain – 2 Cat 1 climbs|
|Stage 5 (3/29)||Puigcerda to Sant Cugat||188km||Early Cat climbs, Easier at end|
|Stage 6 (3/30)||Valls to Vilaseca||174km||Hilly with 2 Cat 3 climbs|
|Stage 7 (3/31)||Barcelona to Barcelona||143km||One Cat 1 Climb, Small Hills|
With the level of talent in this race, cycling pundits believe that whichever cyclist is leading the race after the finish up Vallter 2000 on Stage 3, he will end up winning the Volta a Catalunya. Stage 3 is the toughest stage of them all. However, there could be some early attacks in the first two stages to test out each other’s legs. Stage 4 has two Category 1 climbs and could also lead to a few attacks.
Volta a Catalunya Betting Favorites
The following riders are the odds on favorites to win the Volta a Catalunya, according to Betway:
Alejandro Valverde (+250)
Valverde comes into the Volta a Catalunya as the man to beat and riding well in 2019 so far. He’s a 3-time winner of this race including having won the last two in a row. Alejandro is focused on winning his third straight and breaking a tie with the great Miguel Indurain for the second most Volta a Catalunya wins. Pioneer Spanish cyclist Marinao Canardo won 7 Volta a Catalunya races from 1928 to 1939.
For Valverde, he finished 2nd overall in the UAE Tour at the end of February to early March. He’s proved to have the legs this year and is going to be a force to reckon with in Spain this week. Additionally, Valverde will have Nairo Quintana as his top supporter during the Volta a Catalunya.
Valverde discussed this race and the fact that he will go for the victory if he’s leading after Stage 3’s climb up to Vallter 2000:
“It’s going to be complicated to take the overall win again here, it always is. But Saturday was a sign I’m in good shape. If I’ve got the lead at Vallter 2000, I’m going to want to defend it at [the second summit finish of] La Molina. If I’m not in the lead, then stage four becomes critical because I’ll have to go on the attack.”
Egan Bernal (+275)
The 22 year old Bernal is a future star of the sport. However, that future isn’t too far off as he just claimed the biggest win of his short professional career – the 2019 Paris-Nice race. Prior to that race, most of Bernal’s work this year has been in Columbia. The Volta a Catalunya sets up for an exciting storyline as Bernal will be at least one, if not the, leader of Team Sky. With Chris Froome entering this race, it will most likely come down to which rider has the best legs up Vallter 2000. Keep in mind, Bernal is going to be the leader of Team Sky at the Giro d’Italia this May as well.
For this race, Bernal has the skills and the energy to contend. He’s one of those riders that can hit the acceleration up the steep climbs and hang with anyone including Valverde or Quintana.
Nairo Quintana (+550)
Quintana is always one of the betting favorites for any major road race that he’s in. Nairo has been picked to win several Grand Tours over the last few years, but he’s fallen short to riders like Chris Froome. Nevertheless, Quintana won this race in 2016 and he finished 2nd last year to his teammate Valverde.
This duo is like the Batman and Robin of cycling. They have worked really well in stage races especially the Grand Tours. Quintana comes into this year’s Volta a Catalunya riding well on the year. Nairo finished 2nd at Parice-Nice behind Bernal and finished 5th at Tour Colombia (Colombia 2.1). Ironically, Bernal finished 4th.
For Nairo’s chances in this race, he will need to have the fresher legs and beat his teammate up Vallter 2000. If he can manage that then he will be the leader of Team Movistar and make a run at his second win of this race.
Yates Brothers: Adam Yates (+850) and Simon Yates (+1200)
The Mitchelton-Scott team will be led by the Yates brothers as they look to continue their bid for winning big races like this one. They bring in a formidable team with Esteban Chaves and Daryl Impey also on the roster. In fact, this is a team that can rival both Movistar and Team Sky.
For Adam Yates, he comes into the Volta a Catalunya riding strong. Adam finished 2nd in the Tirreno-Adriatico last week and looks poised to make some serious noise in this race. Adam has won multiple stages in other big races, but his best performance to date is 4th overall at the 2016 Tour de France. He’s very confident in his team’s chances in Spain:
“We are sending a super strong team to Catalunya, and there’s no time trial, which is convenient. We didn’t come away with the overall win in Tirreno recently, but we took a stage win and held the leader’s jersey for almost the whole race, so it bodes well for the team and the team’s confidence in me before Catalunya.”
In regards to his brother Simon, Adam made the following comments:
“Simon has shown he’s going well in Paris-Nice, obviously winning the TT there, and we have a good, strong team, so we will have strength in numbers and hopefully we can do something.”
Of the two, Simon had the most success in the Volta a Catalunya last year. He finished 4th overall in the standings and won Stage 7. Simon was the more successful Yates brother in 2018 as he showed will in the Giro d’Italia and Paris-Nice. Perhaps, the biggest reason why Simon has the best chance of the Yates brothers is that he finished tied for 2nd up the Vallter 2000 last year with a handful of the top riders.
Best Volta a Catalunya Betting Value
The following cyclists provide the best betting value for the Volta a Catalunya based on their past performances in this race, their current cycling betting odds, and their overall racing status:
Miguel Angel Lopez (+1800)
Lopez came out firing in 2019 as he did well in the National Championships for Colombia and also won the Colombia 2.1. In that race, he beat out top riders like Bernal, Quintana, and Uran. Lopez has won some of the smaller tours and several stages in the Vuelta a España, but his best performance was finishing 3rd in last year’s Giro d’Italia. At just 25 years old, Lopez is another young Colombian prospect on the verge of taking over cycling.
Lopez offers solid betting value due to his ability to climb in the mountains, which this race has two stages that could really put Miguel’s skills on display. As the leader of Team Astana, Lopez will have the support to compete at the Volta a Catalunya.
Dan Martin (+2000)
Dan Martin is one of the most popular cyclists among his peers, fans and critics. It’s largely because of his tenacity on the bike where he will go all out and destroy himself for a chance at winning. Whether it’s smart or not for the longhaul, he makes every race more exciting.
Martin will be the sole leader of UAE Team Emirates heading into the Volta a Catalunya as his teammate and coleader Fabio Aru had to pull out of the race due to an injury. Nevertheless, Martin is still a contender to win this race and offers great betting value.
Dan Martin won the Volta a Catalunya in 2013. Martin didn’t fare too well in 2014, but finished 10th in 2015, 3rd in 2016, and 6th in 2017. He rode well at the UAE Tour earlier this month and finished 7th overall. He had two Top 5 stage finishes as well. Dan Martin shared his thoughts on the Volta a Catalunya and his year so far:
“The Volta a Catalunya is always a race I look forward, even more so this year with my family being roadside for a number of the stages. I know the course well since I live in the region and racing Volta a Catalunya nearly every year of my career I know the roads well. So far this season has been consistent so hopefully we can continue to race well as a team, but Catalunya is a wide open race this year. Every day will be important and a very strong field of top riders means it will a good, tactical race: I feel good, so we shall see what happens.”
Martin will be a rider to keep an eye on in this race. If he can take time on the GC contenders in Stage 1 and Stage 4, while hanging with them on Stage 3, then Martin could be poised for an overall victory.
Best Longshot to Win Volta a Catalunya
Chris Froome at +4000 betting odds is my pick for the top longshot to win this race. As a fan of Froome, I believe he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the sport of cycling. Froome looked mortal in the 2018 Tour de France as his teammate won, but that’s mostly because of the expended energy winning the 2018 Giro d’Italia. This year, Chris Froome is focused on winning the Tour de France again and becoming one of just a few riders ever to win 5 TDFs.
Froome has never won the Volta a Catalunya before. His best finish was 6th in 2014. This year, he probably won’t be targeting a win overall, but he could end up having a chance at winning. Egan Bernal will ride with Froome and the duo will team up to take on the likes of Movistar and Mitchelton Scott. Furthermore, this race is an opportunity for Froome to get his legs some work in 2019. He has only ridden in the Colombia 2.1 and he finished 91st overall.
For riders like Froome, it’s all about testing the legs and building up conditioning to prepare for the Grand Tours. With that said, Froome is still the best cyclist in the world. If he races well in the first 3 stages of the Volta a Catalunya, he could be high enough in the standings to compete for the overall race win. Or he could end up helping his teammate Egan Bernal win the race.
Who Will Win the 2019 Volta a Catalunya?
Valverde and Movistar will be tough to beat, but there is one rider and one team that can accomplish this – Egan Bernal on Team Sky. I believe that Bernal is already looking great in 2019. Additionally, he rode well in this race last year on the hard stages and gave Valverde a big scare.
This year, I believe that Bernal will have the legs and the team to win. Froome could be a wildcard in the Volta a Catalunya or he could be the biggest helper for Bernal to win. I believe Froome will most likely use this race to prepare himself for the Grand Tours, which means that it’s Bernal’s to win. And Froome can be the top domestique for Bernal. With the 1-2 punch of Froome and Bernal, we’re looking at a potential force in cycling for years to come and definitely for this week to come.
Volta a Catalunya Betting Recap
- Egan Bernal (+275)
- Miguel Angel Lopez (+1800)
- Dan Martin (+2000)
- Chris Froome (+4000)