Vuelta a Espana 2014: red jersey contenders

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Vuelta a Espana 2014: red jersey contenders

Nairo Quitnana, Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez among riders to go head-to-head for red in Spain

Colombian climbing sensation Nairo Quintana has finished second and first in his last two Grand Tours – the Tour in 2013 and this year’s Giro respectively – and he starts as favourite for the Vuelta a Espana as a result.

At the Giro d’Italia,despite the controversy of the descent of the Stelvio, Quintana was peerless as he climbed into the maglia rosa on the summit finish of Val Martello.

Nairo Quintana was peerless at the Giro d’Italia, not least on the ascent of Val Martello (Pic: Sirotti)

Quintana went on to win the mountain time trial on stage 19, too, and that climbing masterclass showed once again what he can do on top form, evoking memories of similar performances at the Tour de France in 2013, not least on Mont Semnoz.

Quintana has raced just once since the Giro, at last week’s Vuelta a Burgos, and won that too, courtesy of a stage win at Lagunas de Neila.

With former champion Alejandro Valverde at his side and several of the riders who supported him in Italy in the line-up in Spain as well, Quintana has both the skills and team to storm to another Grand Tour victory at just 24.

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