Who’s leading the 2013 Vuelta and who’s going to win?

I vaguely promised something about the general classification and vague promises are meant to be just-about-fulfilled.

Here’s the top ten while we lounge about on the rest day. It’s starting to make a bit of sense, but you tend to think there are going to be a few more changes.

  1. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 40:29:14
  2. Vince Nibbles (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:43
  3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:53
  4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:02
  5. Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 0:01:40
  6. Dan Moreno (Spa) Katusha 0:02:04
  7. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:20
  8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:03:11
  9. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:03:16
  10. Domenico “Dr” Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:28

Chris Horner, for example. He may have finished second in the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race last year and 13th in the Tour the same year, but he is 41 years old. It would be inspiring if a man of his age could win a Grand Tour, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that life generally isn’t inspiring. It’s cold, rational and predictable and basically everything just gets steadily worse the older you get.

Nicolas Roche is third, but it’s a clinging on type of third if the bigger climbs have been anything to go by. Those climbs don’t seem to suit Dan Moreno either. He punched his way into the red jersey and then slogged his way out of it one stage later.

That leaves us with Nibali, Valverde, Rodriguez and then Basso. I guess the last of those is of most interest here, being as I didn’t have him down as a contender before the race. Although he’s 2m20s down, he lost most of that during the team time trial. Since then, he’s looked better and better – arguably stronger than Valverde and Rodriguez on the first mountain stage.

Basso’s suited to longer climbs and there will be more and more of those as the race wears on. Also, as he’s a full six years younger than Horner, he’s got youth on his side. In fact, of the four riders mentioned in the previous paragraph, Nibali is the only one who’s the wrong side of 30. For the purposes of this website, being in your twenties is considered ‘the wrong side of 30’.