It's V-3, Beeyotches! yep, it's only a few short days to the fabulous Vuelta, and besides the GC boys we covered already in yer Preview Part Uno, there's some smashing climbers on tap who, once their work for their captains is done, are sure to be let go to grab some high-stakes high-altitude glory. And, of course, like half of 'em are former Euskaltel (oh Euskaltel!) Yer guys:
Fabio Aru: like you thought he was gonna be 3rd at the Giro this year! He nailed a stage win, too, and he's had time to rest up and train for this Vuelta. Expecting big things from this guy!
Rigoberto Uran: Yes, he does other stuff too. But one can fairly say he's not too shabby, and OPQS's all-in with him as captain. Plus, his personal-brand t-shirts are *wicked.* Go Rigo Go!
Gorka Izagirre (Movistar): yep, ex-Euskie, and he's certainly got a big enough job supporting Nairo Quintana 'n' Alejandro Valverde for Movistar. Let him off the leash though and he's a smashing climber in his own right. Aupa Euskalteeeeeeeee--aw, crap, I mean Movistar!
Carlos Betancur (AG2R): oh, sure, he's got a rep for being a little, well, difficult, and Velonews just basically called him a doughboy--but he's still more than capable, and if AG2R can thwap him out of his complacency, we may see something very special. And damn, lay off the junk food, the team needs you at fighting weight--hey, if Horner can do it, you can too!
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ): yeah, I had no idea he could podium at a Grand Tour either--but apparently *he* did. Tour de France white jersey; 7th at last year's Vuelta. Clearly a boy to watch for the future--and the next few weeks!
Mikel Landa: uh-huh, another ex-Carrot! I'm just gonna stop repeating it. But he is openly looking for a stage win--let's just hope he gets it.
Well, along with Amets Txurruka, and Dani Moreno and Dani Novarro, and I can't say Samu because I already put him in with GC (can so either!), them's my big picks. May the best climber(s) win--or at least not be so totally beholden to a GC captain that they get at least a day's worth of a shot! Next up: the sprinters, and everyone else we're just plain happy to see in the phenomenal Vuelta!
P.S. And the Golden Syringe Goes To...Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, for saying the reason his bio-passport readings made him look like a drug-stuffed thoroughbred-Armstrong hybrid mutant freak was because he was just completely blotto and dehydrated after a major drinking binge the night before. Not quite as good as Bjorn Leukemans' ol' "I Just Finished Doing My Girlfriend" defense (who just won a race today btw!), but we'll take it--meantime, have some Tylenol for that hangover, and we'll see you in 2 years pending appeals, champ!