On Saturday, August 24th, cycling’s third and final Grand Tour of the year kicks off, as the 74th edition of the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) gets underway with a team time trial from Torrevieja located in south east Spain. Since 1995, this three-week long race has been held at the beginning of September in order to allow cyclists to compete in other Grand Tours like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
Three former Vuelta winners (Valverde, Aru, and Quintana) will compete in this year’s race. However, none of them are among the favorites to win this Grand Tour. Vuelta a Espana betting sites view Primoz Roglic, Miguel Angel Lopez, and Richard Carapaz as the betting favorites.
Despite those recognizable names, the Vuelta is lacking overall firepower without some of the sport’s top GC contenders like Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Vincenzo Nibali, and Tom Dumoulin. In fact, last year’s winner Simon Yates and his brother Adam Yates will be out as well. Other big names in the sport like Pinot, Bardet, Landa, Martin, and Porte have all decided to skip the Vuelta after competing in the Tour de France last month.
Where some pundits and fans may view this as a negative, others view this as an exciting opportunity for a wide open race where new stars are forged through the 21 stages of cycling brutality.
Vuelta Betting Overview
This Vuelta a Espana betting preview breaks down the cycling odds (courtesy of Betway and BetOnline) and favorites for each of the race’s main classifications (jerseys) including the overall race winner. Additionally, I’ll pick a winner for each classification, identify betting value and give you betting daredevils a long shot or two along the way.
Best Young Rider Classification
2019 will be the first year that the Vuelta has the best young rider competition. Previously, this competition was known as the combination classification and represented by a white jersey. Now, the best younger rider competition will sport the white jersey and only be for cyclists under the age of 26 years old.
Miguel Angel Lopez (-227)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (+700)
Tadej Pogacar (+900)
Sergio Higuita (+1600)
Daniel Martinez (+1800)
Hugh Carthy (+2000)
Mark Padun (+3300)
One of the big reasons why the Vuelta changed this competition over to the best young rider was that the combination classification mirrored the overall general classification competition. For example, nine of the last 11 white jersey winners also won the Vuelta race (the red jersey). Instead of having a redundant competition, the Vuelta finally decided to do what the other two Grand Tours have done for many years and that’s include a young rider classification.
With that said, this classification will be a two man race. In fact, it’s really one man’s jersey to lose as Miguel Angel Lopez (-227) is a heavy favorite to win the white jersey. At 25 years old, Lopez is also one of the betting favorites to win the overall race. Just like with Egan Bernal at the Tour de France, Miguel is definitely a contender to sweep both jerseys.
Last year, Miguel Angel Lopez finished on the podium behind second place Enric Mas and the winner Simon Yates. It was an improvement over his eighth place result in 2017. In 2016, he didn’t finish the race. He’s a two-time Vuelta stage winner, and there are plenty of reasons to like him for both the white and red jerseys.
The only rider with a realistic chance at competing with Lopez for the white jersey is Tao Geoghegan Hart (+700).
Best Young Rider: Miguel Angel Lopez (-227)
The King of the Mountains Classification
The King of the Mountains (KOM) classification is a competition that crowns the best rider up and over the mountains. This year, there are eight stages with summit finishes in addition to many climbs along the way. Since 2010, this classification has been represented by a white jersey with blue polka dots. Prior to that, the leader of the KOM classification wore the green jersey which is now the colored jersey for the points classification.
In the last 25 years, this competition has been won by the overall race winner on three occasions: Denis Menchov (2007), Laurent Jalabert (1995), and Tony Rominger (1993). Thomas de Gendt is the reigning king of the mountains.
Thomas De Gendt (+600)
Miguel Angel Lopez (+1400)
Oscar Rodriguez (+1400)
Richard Carapaz (+1400)
Luis Angel Mate (+1800)
Nicolas Edet (+2200)
Tomasz Marczynski (+2200)
Rodriguez and Carapaz are interesting betting options on cycling betting sites as they’re both talented cyclists. However, neither has won this competition before. In fact, Rodriguez’s 15th place result in the KOM classification last year is the best finish for both men. I don’t see either of them or Edet and Marczynski winning this competition. The King of the Mountains winner will come down to one of the three riders:
Thomas De Gendt (+600)
As mentioned, De Gendt won this competition last year as he beat out Mollema and Mate. It was his third Top 5 finish in this competition out of six Vuelta appearances. De Gendt also had two Top 3 results for the King of the Mountains competition in the Tour de France. He’s never finished higher than 10th in this classification for the Giro. With that said, I’m a fan of Thomas De Gendt. In the Tour de France last month, he rode a long breakaway by himself and won a stage. He’s fearless in the mountains and always aggressively looking to make any breakaway work.
Lopez will win the white jersey and compete for the red jersey, but can he win this classification as well? Don’t laugh, but there is a chance Lopez could pull off the hat trick of jerseys. He’s on a strong team, has plenty of support and did finish second in this competition in 2017. Last year, he was fifth in the KOM classification. Lopez offers betting value and is worthy of a flier. You know he will be up near the top of the overall classification, which means that he could have some great finishes on several mountain stages.
Luis Angel Mate (+1800)
I believe that Mate offers the best betting value out of the riders with the most realistic chance at winning this competition. He finished third in this competition last year and 10th in 2016. He’s raced in seven Vueltas over his career and has plenty of experience on this terrain. Although he’s never won a stage in the Vuelta, his consistency makes him a value play for this year’s KOM competition.
Who Wins the Vuelta KOM?
When it’s all said and done, I feel the most confident in Thomas De Gendt to pull out another victory. His aggressiveness and overall Grand Tour success makes him the most likely candidate to win. Miguel Angel Lopez will be concentrating mostly on the overall GC battle, which should bode well for Mate and De Gendt. Between those two, De Gendt is the better cyclist in my opinion. However, I am slightly biased since I love watching him ride in Grand Tours. Yet, at +600 odds, he still offers a great return on investment.
For those curious, the last two decades have been dotted with multi-time winners. Omar Fraile won this competition in consecutive years (2015-16) and David Moncoutie became the first rider to ever win this competition in four straight Vueltas (2008-2011).
King of the Mountains: Thomas De Gendt (+600)
The Points Classification
The points classification, which now sports the green jersey, is a competition where cyclists earn points for finishing within the Top 15 of each stage. Unlike other Grand Tours, this scoring system is set for each stage and doesn’t change if there’s a summit finish like with the Tour de France. Points can also be earned with intermediate sprints on various stages. Sean Kelly, Laurent Jalabert, and Alejandro Valverde have all won this competition on four occasions. Valverde won it in 2018 and returns to defend this crown in what’s most likely his last Vuelta appearance.
Sam Bennett (+225)
Alejandro Valverde (+250)
Primoz Roglic (+600)
Richard Carapaz (+600)
Miguel Angel Lopez (+1200)
Fernando Gaviria (+1800)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (+3300)
Nairo Quintana (+5000)
Rigoberto Uran (+8000)
It should come as no surprise that Miguel Angel Lopez is once again a betting option for one of the Vuelta jerseys. However, unlike the others, I don’t see Miguel having a good shot at winning this one despite his fifth-place finish last year. I think there are better options than Lopez this year. I also don’t see Carapaz, Quintana, or Hart winning due to a lack of support and firepower on their teams. For Quintana, he’s leaving Team Movistar after the season and the team will focus on Valverde instead. Gaviria might be the best sprinter, but this competition favors mountain climbers than sprinters unlike with the Tour de France. Only three times in the last 10 years has a sprinter won this competition.
Sam Bennett (+225)
Bennett is riding in his first ever Vuelta a Espana race. He finished second in the points competition for the Giro this year and third in the competition at the Giro last year. Bennett has also had a strong 2019 season by winning two points competitions in smaller stage races and taking home eight wins. With all of that success, I believe he will have a strong showing in this competition.
Alejandro Valverde (+250)
Valverde will go down as one of the greatest Vuelta riders ever. He’s competed in 12 Vueltas to date and won this race in 2009, finished runner up multiple times, has won the points classification a record four times, and has won 13 stages.
With the way they score this competition, it’s perfect for a rider like Valverde. He has finished inside the Top 10 on Vuelta stages 106 times. Think about that for a moment. That’s more than double the next rider. In fact, it takes the total of the next four riders combined to surpass Valverde. I’m honestly surprised that he’s not the betting favorite for this jersey.
Primoz Roglic (+600)
Roglic is a contender for the overall GC contender, but has never appeared in the Vuelta before. Team Jumbo-Visma held him out of the Tour de France after a difficult finish to the Giro in May. Roglic will have one of the strongest teams in this race. Primoz finished ninth in the points competition at the Giro without even trying. With his attempts to win the red jersey, Roglic could find himself on the hunt for this jersey. I like his odds as they do provide a decent return.
Rigoberto Uran (+8000)
Uran is the longshot, but he’s considered a GC contender whenever he takes the starting line in a Grand Tour. Rigoberto finished seventh at the Tour de France this year and seventh at the Vuelta last year. The 32-year-old is the leader of EF Education First and should have the support to contend for the red jersey. However, if he falters in that battle, then he could be a threat for this competition as Uran does have the necessary skills to hang with the favorites.
Who Wins the Green Jersey?
Bennett has had a strong year so far, but I believe he’s overvalued based on his success in other races. There’s no way he should be ahead of Valverde in betting odds. Not only do you have one of the best Vuelta riders ever, but Alejandro Valverde can set the all-time record for most points classification victories if he wins at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana. I believe he will. Valverde is on the cusp of retirement and what better way to go out a winner than by taking a record-setting green jersey in his favorite Grand Tour?
I’m taking Valverde to win this competition for the fifth time in the last eight years.
The overall race leader and winner can be seen wearing the red jersey since 2010. Prior to that, the Vuelta leader/winner has donned different color jerseys like yellow or gold. Robert Heras has won this Grand Tour a record four times. Of the active riders this year, only Valverde, Quintana, and Aru have won this race before. The 2018 champ Simon Yates will not be competing in this year’s Vuelta.
Primoz Roglic (+200)
Miguel Angel Lopez (+300)
Richard Carapaz (+350)
Steven Kruijswijk (+1000)
Nairo Quintana (+1600)
Alejandro Valverde (+1800)
Johan Esteban Chaves (+2200)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (+2500)
Jakob Fuglsang (+2800)
Rafal Majka (+2800)
Tadej Pogacar (+2800)
Rigoberto Uran (+3300)
Sergio Higuita (+3300)
Wouter Poels (+3300)
Fabio Aru (+4000)
Pierre Latour (+5000)
Wilco Kelderman (+6600)
George Bennett (+8000)
As we saw in the Tour de France last month, the best riders and teams rose to the top of the standings. Team Ineos finished first and second, while Jumbo-Visma finished third. Additionally, Team Movistar had three riders in the Top 10. However, Team Ineos isn’t bringing any of their Grand Tour winners to the Vuelta, which opens the door for other teams. I expect Jumbo-Visma and Movistar to contend for the overall race win along with Team Astana. These three teams have the best GC contenders and the strongest supporting casts.
Team Jumbo-Visma Riders
Team Jumbo-Visma has performed really well over the last few Grand Tours and bring another strong squad to the Vuelta. Primoz Roglic (+200) will be the team captain for this race as he sat out the Tour de France so that Steven Kruijswijk (+1000) can be the leader. Kruijswijk ended up finishing third at the TDF. He was fourth in last year’s Vuelta and ninth the year before. Sandwiched between those two Vueltas was a fifth-place finish in the 2018 Tour de France.
Jumbo-Visma directors have already stated that Kruijswijk will ride for Roglic. With his recent Grand Tour resume, you can see why Roglic has a strong chance at winning the Vuelta. Primoz was one of the favorites this year’s Giro as well, but a bike mechanical problem late in the Giro cost Roglic a win. However, he still finished third overall. Roglic finished fourth in the 2018 Tour de France just one spot ahead of his teammate Kruijswijk. They proved to be a powerful duo in the TDF.
I expect that trend to continue in the Vuelta. Additionally, they have strong teammates like Bennett, Gesink, and Martin to help Roglic to the top of the standings. If Primoz falters in any way, you can bet Kruijswijk will have the skills to capture another podium.
In this Grand Tour, I don’t expect Roglic to falter like in the Giro. In fact, his wins in the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Tour de Romandie showed that he has great form in 2019. Roglic won both time trials in the Giro, which also bodes well for Primoz since there is an individual time trial in Stage 10.
Jakob Fuglsang (+2800) was one of the pre-race favorites for the Tour de France last month, but crashed out of the Grand Tour. When healthy, he showed good form in France. Jakob is expected to be the top domestique for Lopez. He last rode in the Vuelta back in 2013. His best Vuelta result was in 2011 when he finished 11th.
Miguel Angel Lopez (+300) is the captain of this team and is expected to be a force in this race. I’ve discussed Lopez’s accomplishments already, but it should be noted that he took off this year’s Tour de France to prepare for the Vuelta. In his last four Grand Tours, Lopez hasn’t finished lower than eighth. Last year, he was third overall at the Vuelta and fifth in both the points and mountains classifications.
My biggest concern for Lopez is how well he and his team will do in the time trials. Astana finished 10th in the team time trial at the Tour de France last month. Last year, Lopez finished 44th and 31st in the two individual time trials. Roglic is one of the best time trialists in the world and Jumbo-Visma won the team time trial at the TDF last month.
Team Movistar Riders
This will be the last time we see Movistar roll out a trident of cyclists. For the last two seasons, they have featured a triple threat in Grand Tours. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always worked out for them. At the Tour de France last month, they finished sixth, eighth, and ninth overall. In the 2018 TDF, they finished seventh, 10th, and 14th. At last year’s Vuelta, they finished fifth, eighth, and 18th. Movistar’s breakthrough came at the Giro this year when Carapaz won it. His teammate Landa finished fourth overall.
Movistar’s director stated that Alejandro Valverde (+1800) will be hunting for stage wins and not the overall GC victory. That will be up to Richard Carapaz (+350) and Nairo Quintana (+1600). With Nairo leaving the team after this season, I believe the work and plan will be for Carapaz to win his second Grand Tour of the year.
Quintana has had more success at the Vuelta as he won the race in 2016. However, we saw how the team left him behind during a few stages at the Tour de France and I expect that to continue at the Vuelta since Nairo is changing teams. For Movistar, their GC hope will fall on the legs of Richard Carapaz who finished 18th at the Vuelta last year. However, the 26-year-old appears to be entering his prime and that could be scary for his competitors.
Who Wins the 2019 Vuelta a Espana?
I like Miguel Angel Lopez, but I don’t trust his or Team Astana’s ability to win a time trial. Lopez will most likely finish on the podium, but I believe the winner will be Primoz Roglic. I really like Team Jumbo-Visma’s squad. They will be one of the best teams for the time trial and Roglic should win the individual time trial as well. With the help of Kruijswijk, I see Roglic winning his first ever Grand Tour.
Vuelta Winner: Primoz Roglic (+200)
Top 3 and Top 10 Finishes
The following Vuelta prop bets are odds on whether or not a cyclist will finish in the Top 3 or the Top 10. These odds are expressed as follows (Top 3 odds/Top 10 odds):
Primoz Roglic (-180/-400): Roglic is my pick to win this race. Not only do I think he will finish on the podium, but he will definitely finish in the Top 10.
Miguel Angel Lopez (-150/-714): Lopez is a contender for every jersey. I see him getting another podium finish and easily within the Top 10.
Richard Carapaz (-120/-400): This year’s Giro winner is definitely a contender for the podium. I think it’s safer to pick him with a Top 10 finish rather than a Top 3.
Steven Kruijswijk (+250/-400): Kruijswijk is riding for Roglic, which means there’s no way he finishes on the podium unless Roglic crashes and loses time or withdraws from the race. Skip the Top 3 odds. However, I can see Kruijswijk still finishing with a Top 10 due to his time trial skills and finishing high on several stages.
Alejandro Valverde (+400/-400): Valverde will not be going for the overall win. So, there’s no shot at a podium finish. But a Top 10 is most likely in the cards for Valverde.
Nairo Quintana (+400/-357): Since he’s leaving the team after this season, he’s one rider I just don’t want to touch.
Rafal Majka (+550/-183): Majka finished on the podium in 2015, but hasn’t cracked the Top 5 since the 2016 Giro. He has a shot at the Top 10, but there are better options.
Wouter Poels (+600/+166): Poels finished sixth in the 2017 Vuelta, which was his best result for any Grand Tour. He didn’t race here last year. Poels will support Hart and most likely finish outside of the Top 15.
Rigoberto Uran (+650/-222): I don’t see Uran making it to the podium, but he does have a shot at the Top 10. Uran has finished in the Top 7 for four of his last five Grand Tours.
Tadej Pogacar (+650/-111): Although he’s had a solid 2019, which included winning the Tour of California, this will be Pogacar’s first Grand Tour appearance. At 20 years old, it’s a lot to ask of a young rider to win his first Grand Tour. He has a small shot at cracking the Top 10, but that’s it.
Tao Geoghegan Hart (+650/-117): TGH will lead Team Ineos into the Vuelta, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in him yet. Hart didn’t finish the Giro this year and ended up 62nd last year in his first Vuelta. With little Grand Tour experience and success, it’s hard to imagine Hart becoming a contender. I would avoid both betting options.
Johan Esteban Chaves (+700/-117): Chaves finished third in the Vuelta back in 2016 and 11th in 2017. He didn’t race here in 2018. He’s a bit of a dark horse to finish on the podium, but I do like his chances and odds for finishing in the Top 10.
Jakob Fuglsang (+800/+220): Fuglsang will ride for Lopez, which will crush his chances at a high finish. There’s not shot at a podium and I doubt he will make it in the Top 10.
Fabio Aru (+1200/+130): Aru won’t finish in the Top 3 and he will need a strong showing to finish in the Top 10. I don’t like his odds for either.
Betway offers the following head-to-head Vuelta prop bets where you have to pick which cyclist will win in this matchup:
Primoz Roglic (+150) vs The Field (-188)
I picked Primoz Roglic to win this competition. But I think a head-to-head wager against The Field is a great way to hedge your bet. Although I believe Roglic will win, I’m taking The Field for this Vuelta prop bet. There are too many talented cyclists that comprise of this option and Roglic did run into some bad luck at the Giro this year, which knocked him down from first to third when it was all said and done.
Winner: The Field (-188)
Jakob Fuglsang (+125) vs Rafael Majka (-175)
I like Majka in this battle. He will be the leader of Bora-hansgrohe and is their best hope for a GC victory. Majka finished third in the Vuelta back in 2015 and has four Top 7 finishes in the Giro. His team isn’t as impressive as Fuglsang’s Astana club, but he’s just proven to be a better Grand Tour rider than Jakob over the last handful of years. Fuglsang will be riding for Miguel Angel Lopez, has never won a stage in this Grand Tour, and has never cracked the Top 10 in the final standings. Take Majka to win this matchup.
Winner: Rafael Majka (-175)
Miguel Angel Lopez (-227) vs The Field (+162)
This head-to-head battle is for the best young rider (white jersey) classification. Typically, I would jump all over the option to bet on The Field but, for this jersey, I believe Lopez is going to win it hands down. He’s a contender to win the entire race and he’s the best rider under the age of 26 that’s in this race. If Egan Bernal was in it, the 2019 Tour de France winner, then I would pick him. However, since he’s not, Lopez is the man.
Winner: Miguel Angel Lopez (-227)
The Vuelta Team Classification
I’ve already laid out my argument above for which teams I think will be the best: Movistar, Jumbo-Visma, Astana. Let’s take a look at their betting odds and predict the winner of this classification:
Team Jumbo-Visma (+210)
Movistar has won four straight Grand Tour team classifications: 2019 and 2018 TDF, 2019 Giro, and 2018 Vuelta. It’s been a run of dominance that could definitely continue in the Vuelta. With that said, I have a hard time dismissing Jumbo-Visma. With Roglic on board, they will definitely be a strong team that most likely wins both time trial stages and at least one or two more. That puts them in line with Movistar for the most stage wins. Astana is my value pick as they have the team to compete in the mountains, but not on the sprint or time trial stages.
I like what Movistar is bringing to the table, but I have a good feeling about Jumbo-Visma. I’m taking them to win this classification on the strength of Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk.
Team Classification Winner: Team Jumbo-Visma (+210)
Which Team Will Have the 2019 Vuelta Winner?
Another exciting Vuelta a Espana prop bet is regarding which cycling team will feature the outright winner.
Team Jumbo-Visma (+110)
Bora is a longshot to win this Vuelta prop bet as it will most likely come from one of the other three betting options. Movistar has value considering the talent that they have and Astana also has plenty of fire power, but I’m going with Jumbo-Visma. They are all-in on Roglic winning this race and have sent enough firepower to support him.
King of the Mountains (White Blue Dots) Winner: Thomas De Gendt (+600)
Best Young Rider (White Jersey) Winner: Miguel Angel Lopez (-177)
Team Classification Winner: Jumbo-Visma (+210)
Head 2 Head Battles:
Miguel Angel Lopez (-227) over The Field
Rafael Majka (-175) over Jakob Fuglsang
The Field (-188) over Primoz Roglic
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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