The Campagnolo-sponsored riders and teams who’ll shine at the final GrandTour of the 2021 season.
The final GrandTour of the season is arguably harder for riders and teams to pinpoint.
The Tour de France has not long passed, as has the Tokyo Olympics and, despite Covid disrupting the start of the season, the world’s best have many thousands of kilometers in their legs.
So, rider line-up and leading contenders are often open to change right until the last moment.
But, as it stands, these are the teams and riders who’ll use a mix of Campagnolo Super Record and Bora Ultra WTO wheels to make their mark at this year’s Vuelta a Espana…
UAE Team Emirates
Tadej Pogacar ripped up the record book at this year’s Tour de France, at just 22 years old becoming the youngest-ever rider to win La Grande Boucle twice.
But it was at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana that the world really started to pay attention to the Slovenian after he finished third overall and won three stages, all this in his first GrandTour.
Pogacar not only won the yellow and white jerseys at this year’s Tour, but the polka-dot jersey, too, highlighting how if he does race in Spain, he’ll be in his element with the route’s steep climbs.
If Pogacar does make the UAE Team Emirates line-up, he’ll be supported in the mountains by the experienced Rafal Majka and David de la Cruz.
De la Cruz has shown in the past that he’s inspired by racing on home soil, finishing seventh overall in both 2016 and 2020. His sole GrandTour stage victory came in 2016 when he won in a breakaway on the 164.5km ninth stage from Cistierna to Oviedo.
Keep an eye on Matteo Trentin, too. The 32-year-old Italian enjoyed the finest GrandTour of his career at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, winning four stages. A solid showing at this year’s Tour followed a good early season where he finished third at Gent-Wevelgem.
Trentin will be there or thereabouts at this year’s race.
If Australian pocket rocket Caleb Ewan’s selected for the Vuelta a Espana, the Lotto-Soudal sprinter will have at least seven opportunities to win at the Vuelta a España, although he’ll have to wait until stage two for his first opportunity as the opener is an 8km individual time-trial around Burgos.
But question marks remain over the 27-year-old’s appearance after the high-speed crash that ended his Tour de France. It was bitter disappointment for Ewan whose primary aim for 2021 was to become the first non-European to win a stage at each GrandTour in a single season.
He achieved part one of three by claiming two stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and proved his pre-Tour form by winning two stages of the Belgium Tour. But after touching wheels with Tim Merlier during the Tour de France’s stage-three sprint, he smashed into the tarmac and broke his collarbone. Ewan’s back riding on the road, although now accompanied by a titanium plate to hold his collarbone together.
If Ewan’s race fit, he’ll be ably supported in Spain by a line-up that includes Kobe Goossens, Gerben Thijssen, Andreas Kron, Harm Vanhoucke and Steff Cras.
Team The French team will be gunning for stage victories at this year’s Vuelta a Espana, with 29-year-old Geoffrey Bouchard their calling card in the mountains. Bouchard enjoyed a superb 2021 Giro d’Italia, winning a GrandTour mountains classification for the second time in his career.
His Giro triumph was the first time a Frenchman’s won the Italian mountain jersey since Laurent Fignon in 1984. His first mountains classification victory came at the 2019 Vuelta from where he told onlookers:
“It’s a first success and it motivates me to keep working hard and keep improving, to challenge for further victories.”
Will the aggressive climber win his first GrandTour stage at the Vuelta? His best opportunities will come in the mountain stages of which there are six, starting with the 203km parcours from Santo Domingo de Silos to Picon Blanco on stage three.
Keep an eye out on Lilian Calmejane, too. This is only the 28-year-old Frenchman’s second appearance at the Vuelta a Espana and he’s hoping to match – or exceed – his 2016 debut where he won stage three.
Stan Dewulf, Jaakko Hänninen, Marc Sarreau and Mikaël Cherel are the other confirmed AG2R-Citroen Team riders.
Bouchard certainly won’t have it all his own way in the mountains, especially when last year’s mountains jersey winner, Guillaume Martin, is in the field. An attacking Martin was in five breakaways at the 2020 Vuelta, going onto win Cofidis the blue polka-dot jersey for the sixth time since 2008.
The 28-year-old’s carried over his excellent form into 2021, winning the inaugural MercanTour Classic Alpes-Maritimes before going on to finish eighth at the Tour de France, his best result in his fifth Tour. It also helped him to the title of highest French finisher.
Martin will not only be looking to regain his mountains title but also win his first GrandTour stage.
He’ll look to do so with the support of, among others, Piet Allegaert, José Herrada, Jesús Herrada and Fernando Barceló.
Campagnolo wish all our riders and teams the very best at the 2021 Vuelta a Espana, which takes place between 14th August and 5th September.