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Editors’ Picks: Who will win the Vuelta a España?

Who will win the 2016 Vuelta. Most of our editors are tipping Contador for the win, but there are a few surprises mixed into our predictions.

Here are our rapid-fire predictions for the top-three overall at the Vuelta a España. The VeloNews editorial staff will make predictions for major races throughout the season.

John Bradley, editor in chief
Picks:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Chris Froome
3. Esteban Chaves

Contador because that guy is too proud not to win after what happened to him in this year’s Tour. Of course, you can’t win on pride alone, but the guy still has the legs, and he’s in his home tour.

I think Froome will just be a bit too spent after the Tour, the post-Tour demands, and the stresses of the Olympics to top a fresh Contador. Though if anyone can deal with all of that and still win the Vuelta, it’s him.

Third will be Chaves because he was fifth last year and second in this year’s Giro. And since he didn’t race the Tour, one can assume he has been targeting the Vuelta in a big way.

Spencer Powlison, news director
Picks:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Nairo Quintana
3. Louis Meintjes

Contador has won the Vuelta three times — his home race is also the grand tour which suits his attacking style the best. With precious few race days in his legs this summer, he should have plenty in the tank to win the Vuelta. Quintana won’t be quite as sharp, but the climbing-centric route will favor him, and he’s likely hoping to rebound after a disappointing Tour result. I think Meintjes might be the surprise of the Vuelta. He rode very well in Rio and was top-10 in the Tour.

Fred Dreier, executive editor
Picks:
1. Chris Froome
2. Alberto Contador
3. Miguel Ángel López

Froome was so strong at this year’s Tour that he could have pedaled with one leg and towed a VW Bug behind him and still won. My guess is he chose to race the Vuelta because he still has plenty of gas in the tank. Sure, Sky’s supporting cast isn’t as strong as its murderer’s row from the Tour. But Froome knows how to stay out of trouble, how to conserve his energy, and how to win when he needs to. Why bet against him? I’ll spare you the chit chat about Contador seeking redemption for his bad Tour de France. If Contador can stay upright, he should slot into the No. 2 spot. El Pistolero hates to finish second, so he could torpedo his podium spot with an all-out suicide attack at some point. I believe he’s going to be strong, but not stronger than Froome. The Vuelta is often the grand tour for the next generation, and I think Lopez is the next great grand tour racer. This is where he turns heads and makes his mark.

Chris Case, managing editor
Picks:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Chris Froome
3. Miguel Ángel López

Contador’s three for three at the Vuelta. He has a knack for pulling it out in the end. He’s on home turf. Partisan fans will want to see Froomey run again. The edge goes to El Pistolero. Although Froome is clearly the best rider today in three-week races. He just isn’t as comfortable in the chaos of La Vuelta as he is in France. While my head says Quintana should finish next in line (and he clearly has more grand tour experience than the young Lopez), Nairoman was completely ineffective at the Tour. Meanwhile, López, the Tour de Suisse winner, will come in fresher and feistier and claw his way onto the podium.

Dan Cavallari, tech editor
Picks:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Esteban Chaves
3. Chris Froome

Contador is hungry after a super-disappointing Tour de France and likely has a lot to prove before he switches teams. And with some time off to recover and train, I’m willing to bet he’s in top form. The young gun Chaves got fifth last year, and he’s only gotten better since then. With the tough competition at this year’s Vuelta, it’s a good time for him to prove himself as a real contender. Froome has got the tools, he’s got the team. He’s also had a busy few months that might cost him some motivation and stamina. But he seems unbeatable this season, so I wouldn’t count him out for any of the three podium steps.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
Picks:
1. Alberto Contador
2. Esteban Chaves
3. Alejandro Valverde

After a disappointing early exit from the Tour, Contador will be extra hungry for a good result at the Vuelta. Plus, he’ll be better rested than the guys who finished all three weeks in France. Chaves and his Orica teammates showed they were capable of big wins at the Giro, and we’re hoping to see more handmade good luck signs from the tiny Columbian. Valverde has Quintana to back him up through the high mountain stages and the aggressive Spaniard will be ready to attack if he smells weakness in any of the other GC contenders.

Gregor Brown, reporter
Picks:
1. Nairo Quintana
2. Chris Froome
3. Esteban Chaves

Quintana strikes back and wins the Vuelta a España to add to his Giro d’Italia title. Froome finishes second yet another time, but adds to the Tour win and Olympic bronze medal. Colombian Chaves climbs onto the podium of the Spanish grand tour for third place.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
Picks:
1. Chris Froome
2. Alberto Contador
3. Nairo Quintana

The Vuelta has continually eluded Froome these past few years, but it’s not for lack of trying that he hasn’t managed to pull off the win. Three-time Tour winner or no, Froome has always wanted to add a Vuelta title to his palmares.

It’s not easy to stay in top form from early July through mid-September, but a motivated Froome will be hard to beat in Spain if he’s even close to his best. Contador seems most likely to give Froome a run for his money, as the Spaniard will likely be fresher for having not finished the Tour de France, while Quintana’s talent means you can never count him out, even if he looked a bit flat in July.