Oh yeah, it's only a few short days 'til the fabulous Vuelta, honey, and now that we've previewed the excruciating course, it's time for General Classification contenders that'll be takin' it on! And while the Tour is one nasty prologue for the flaming-hot, steeper'n hell painfest like the Vuelta, with pretty well all these guys similarly gobsmacked, that oughtn't be such a huge factor this year. Yer heroes:
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): WELL HE'D BE THERE BEATING ALL YOU COWARDLY WEAKLING WUSSBAGS IF ANY OF YOU'D'VE HAD HALF THE NUTS TO DO THE GIRO WITH 'IM FIRST SO GO TO HELL YOU GUTLESS !@#$IN' SHOWOFFS! AND SAGAN YOU BETTER PULL OFF AT LEAST A COUPLA STAGE WINS FOR ME TO SAVE THIS HUMILIATING !@#$-SHOW OF A SEASON! Oh, Oleg Tinkov, tell us how you *really* feel...
2. Chris Froo--ack! yaaaack! gaaccccckkkkk! arrrrghhhh!--me (Sky): yep, he won the freakin' Tour de France, beeyotches, with a freakishly mountain-goat contingent o' Classics riders to pace 'im, and now the smug little !@%# is back to show that, though the Giro-Tour double was arrogant and reckless as well as downright embarrassing, the Tour-Vuelta double is, for any real rider, a piece o' cake. So sorry you're not there for me to stomp on again, Alberto--I'll be sure to wave to you from the final podium in Madrid!
3. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): Dang, he rode well and bravely at the Tour de France, didn't he? But whether his body can handle the stress 'n' strain of a 3-week two-fer, at the heights at which his impressive talent is capable, is a whole 'nother question. Still, he's got Samu. Stay strong, Tejay, and hopefully you can show 'em all in week 3!
4. Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru (Astana): Oh, the pain of having to "share" team leadership at the Vuelta! Say what you will about Nibs, but even after his Tour de France GC hopes were obliterated, the man kept stubbornly riding as hard as he could--pure and unadulterated grinta. As for Aru, yeah, you rode a *really* nice Giro with ex-Carrot Mikel Landa's monster aid--but remember your place, rugrat, your time is coming soon anyhow!
5. Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): Oh, the pain of having to "share" team leadership at the Vuelta! But at least with Movistar it's because Nairo--and miraculously, even the dependably self-destructive Valverde--completely kicked !@#. So lay off Nairo if he falters, which he won't--the poor wee thing is probably *tired* for heck's sake!
6. Purito Rodriguez (Katusha): As the GC plans of the "fabulous five" imploded around him, Purito kept his cool, and took *two* smashing stage win at the Tour. But for my money, and despite his nearly Hornerish advanced age, the starkly beautiful Vuelta is the race for him, and now is his time. Shut up, go to hell, will so too either!
Yes, there's others. And the Vuelta being the Vuelta, I'm sure I'll be proved mortifyingly wrong. But even the GC contenders ain't all the action for this phenomenal race--next up in preview: the climbers, the sprinters, and all the other stuff to see!