Consistent Kruijswijk could prosper in Vuelta a Espana
Favourites seek redemption in absence of Froome and Thomas
Eurosport 1, 5pm Saturday
Cycling's third and final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, begins in Malaga on Saturday but there is an unusual look to the betting on who will win the race.
For the first time since the 2017 Giro d'Italia, Chris Froome does not head the market to win a three-week stage race with the Briton opting to not defend the red jersey he won a year ago.
That leaves Froome's former teammate Richie Porte and Simon Yates vying for favouritism on what is a typically arduous Vuelta route.
At 3,254 kilometers the Vuelta is the shortest of this year's three Grand Tours but that statistic belies the route's challenging make-up with few flat days and 46 summits to conquer.
For favourites Porte and Yates the Vuelta offers a final chance of redemption. Yates looked to have the Giro title in his grasp in May before cracking in the final week, which allowed Froome to profit. Time is running out for Porte to win a Grand Tour after he crashed out of the Tour de France for a second year running.
Third-favourite Nairo Quintana beat Froome to the red jersey two years ago and there is no doubting that the more mountainous the terrain is, the better he will fare. However, the Colombian is too inconsistent to be backed with any confidence at around 5-1 and the same can be said of compatriot Miguel Angel Lopez and 2015 winner Fabio Aru, who has had a terrible season.
With no Froome or Geraint Thomas present, Team Sky have put their faith in super domestique Michal Kwiatkowski, winner of the Tour of Poland two weeks ago, and home hope David De La Cruz. Neither has contended for victory in a three-week race, however.
Vincenzo Nibali would be overpriced at 33-1 if at his best but there has to be a huge doubt over his fitness after he fractured a vertebrae on Alpe d'Huez at the Tour.
Lotto-NL Jumbo had a stellar Tour de France despite their limited resources as Primoz Roglic finished fourth and Steven Kruijswijk fifth in the general classification.
Dutchman Kruijswijk would probably be a Grand Tour winner had he not crashed out at the 2016 Giro when holding the lead with only three stages remaining.
Kruijswijk has been a model of consistency over the past two years, finishing in the top ten of every stage race he has completed since the 2016 Tour of Catalunya.
He looks to have been dismissed far too easily by bookmakers at 40-1 and looks banker material to continue his run of top-ten finishes.
S Kruijswijk to win La Vuelta
1pt each-way 40-1 general
S Kruijswijk top-ten finish
4pts 5-4 Betway
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