That epic Vuelta a España showdown? Big names not confirmed yet

Team officials say Tadej Pogačar will decide after Olympics, while it's ‘very likely’ Egan Bernal will race Spanish grand tour.

Photo: BrakeThrough Media

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MOURENX, France (VN) — For anyone hoping for what could be an epic face-off with Tadej Pogačar, Egan Bernal, and Primož Roglič next month at the Vuelta a España might have to wait.

Team officials across all three teams told VeloNews the presence of cycling’s biggest stars is not yet confirmed.

Ineos Grenadiers officials said Bernal, winner of the Giro d’Italia in May, will “very likely” race the Vuelta, but a final decision has not yet been made.

UAE-Team Emirates officials confirmed to VeloNews that no final decision is made on Pogačar’s Vuelta participation.

Officials said the team’s staff will see how Pogačar is recovering after what’s looking to be another Tour de France victory and a long trip to race in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Jumbo-Visma officials told VeloNews that Roglič is expected to start the Vuelta following his early exit from the Tour due to a high-impact crash in the first week.

“Primož is good and he is getting back on track, hopefully, he can make it to Tokyo for him,” said Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge on Friday. “For us, it is more important that he is healthy again, and that he is maybe he can [race] the Vuelta. We have to see how he recovers. I think he can make Tokyo.”

Crashes, ambitions, and the Olympic Games are shaping the calendars of cycling’s “Big Three,” along with a host of other racers.

The Vuelta typically picks up top riders coming off disappointment at the Tour as well as many of the top protagonists at the Giro.

This year looks to be a little different.

The presence of the Tokyo Olympic Games, set for one week following the conclusion of the Tour in Paris, is narrowing already what is a narrow window between the Tour and Vuelta.

Even if Pogačar might not start, the Vuelta field should still pack some punch.

Some of the other confirmed starters include Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Romain Bardet (DSM), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), and Movistar’s Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde, and Miguel Ángel López.

Ineos Grenadiers, coming off what looks to be a third-place podium in the Tour, is expected to bring a stacked Vuelta team that could also include Tom Pidcock, Adam Yates, Pavel Sivakov, Richard Carapaz, and Daniel Martínez.

Another name still on the bubble? Chris Froome.

The two-time Vuelta winner is surviving the 2021 Tour, and though the Vuelta is on his schedule, Froome said he’s still not decided on whether or not he will race.

“It’s on the cards,” Froome said Friday. “I still haven’t made a decision one way or another on that.”

The Vuelta has emerged over the past decade as one of the most engaging and wide-open races on the calendar.

With the race opening August 14 in Burgos, the route winds south along the Mediterranean coast before the final week in Spain’s steep mountains in the Cantabrian range, before ending in Santiago de Compostela.

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