After the recent excitement of the Tour de France and the cycling events at the Beijing Olympic Games, Cycling Central turns its focus to Spain where riders are preparing for the 63rd edition of La Vuelta.Mike Tomalaris believes a local competitor will reign in Spain.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Who will win the 2008 Vuelta?

That's easy - a Spaniard.

The difficult question to answer is which particular Spaniard will rule the roads of Spain in the last of cycling's Grand Tours of the year.

Well, I feel it really comes down to just three big names.

Take your pick from Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, Tour de France pre-race favourite Alejandro Valverde or this year's winner of the Giro d'Italia Alberto Contador.

There's no doubt all three are expected to figure in the overall honours once the race winds its way to the finish line in Madrid on September 21.

Of the three, I feel none will be able to overcome Contador.

Why?

Apart from having the freshest legs as a result of a forced absence from the Tour in July, he has the incentive to win on home soil for the first time.

Contador has the form as was proven at the Beijing Olympics following his fighting fourth finish in the individual time trial.

Sastre and Valverde have had taxing seasons already and to ask either to back up from a successful and gruelling year is a big ask.

Pity the record number of Aussies who raced in France won't be making the trek to Granada for the start on August 30.

At least the green and gold will be easy to spot on the shoulders of Australia's reigning national champion Matt Lloyd whose priority will be to guide Ukraine teammate Yaroslav Popovych.

Both will headline Silence-Lotto's colours following the disappointing withdrawal of Cadel Evans because of his well-documented knee problem.

Lloyd is the sole Australian at this year's Vuelta.

The Vuelta will be one to watch carefully as it has the potential to one day match the global appeal of the Tour de France.

This is because the Tour's owners ASO have a 49% interest in the three week race.

Its aim is to build the Vuelta's profile and status as it has done with the Tour.

Who knows, ASO may have plans to takeover the "Big 3" and start a Grand Slam of cycling similar to the tennis Grand Slam events which take in the Australian, French, US Opens and Wimbledon.

Let's hope so.

That way cycling enthusiasts will have more than just one big race to follow every year.

As we all know too much cycling is never enough!