I follow cycling since 2007 and it is one of my favourite sports to watch. To see my country doing so well is a dream come true. 10 years ago people here were thrilled if one of our guys made it into a break in the Tour or got a top 10 in a stage. And now this. So yeah, I kind of have to give it a 10
Besides, racing was great. Basically every stage was interesting to watch, from the TTT to the final stage in Madrid.
I gave it a 7, but I was very close to give it an 8.
There were exciting stages, long range attacks and 2nd/3rd place were up for grabs till the very end. First week was fun and the echelon stage was absolutely stunning.
Why not higher then? Well, the end of week 2 was a big let down for me, with two multimountain stages completely softpedalled.
There was no real queen stage, only one climb above 2000mt and a general lack of big mountains. This resulted in one of the most disappointing mountain jersey competition that I can remember. The race for the red jersey was also virtually over before the third week.
Well, what should I say. This race is really really hard to judge for me as it's the grand tour I have least followed since...2013 Vuelta probably, I don't really know (and btw I'm aware this vuelta ending up pretty good really fits the narrative). It's sad in a way, but I was extremely busy this summer and because the gc seemed to be decided very very early on I didn't really bother continue watching when I had other stuff to do, so all the stages that were good on their own but didn't have a massive gc impact, or the stages nobody expected to have an impact, I missed.
People might have noticed that I moaned a lot over the field of this race and I stand with my opinion that this is the weakest gc field a gt has seen in a long time (2015 Vuelta was may be comparable in terms of top end performances but I think that one at least had more depth). I did take out the fun for me a bit as I could never imagine anyone pulling off the one big move that could make Roglic fall off his throne and that despite me still not being sure whether Roglic was actually that good. I understand that to many other the lack of good competition doesn't matter if the racing delivers but for me it simply does.
The other negative was of course the lack of drama for the actual win. The race was fairly close in the first week but with the exception of possibly MAL there was nobody I could see becoming a threat to Roglic. After the first week and especially the TT that feeling almost became certainty. People have compared it with Roglic looking dominant in the giro this year too, but here you just didn't have the same sort of juggernauts sitting a few minutes behind him and the insane mountain stages of the giro left. I've made the point before and I'll repeat it, Lopez, the only guy who seemed to be Roglic's biggest danger was in the exact same position in the giro just that there he was seen as an absolutely minor threat due to everyone else who was in that race. (you can see this whole point is strongly interfering with my previous one about the weak field)
Roglic's advantage only seemed to grow larger and larger as all his rivals were inconsistant as hell, the big danger Lopez was so dangerous he ended up in fifth and in the end I just want to say that as good as this race has been, it was really missing the drama for the win.
Before I get to the good things, I wanted to make the comparison to the giro 2015, as many have claimed this is the best gt since that race and as those races had some big similarities. First of all, I disagree, I think at least the 2018 giro has been clearly better. But aside from that the similarities are indeed striking. Not a great field, not a huge battle for the win, but constantly good stages. Imo the big differences are, firstly the depth of the giro 2015 field was pretty low indeed, but the top end performances were way better there. Contador was still a top 3, maybe 4, gt contender, Landa that giro was insane, Aru was probably better than anyone except Roglic in this race and let's not forget there was a super strong Richie Porte in that race for two weeks. Secondly, while we didn't have a super tense battle for pink in 2015, it's easily forgotten just how super tight that race was until the TT on stage 14 and then on stage 16, had things gone just a bit differently, Contador easily could have lost the giro there. Only for the last 5 stages we pretty much knew who was gonna win. So yeah, this race was giro 2015 esque, but I think still quite a bit behind it.
Anyway, now to the good parts. For the 2nd time since 2015 the approach of not putting huge mountain stages in the final week has worked brilliantly for the Vuelta and I just hope they will now use this concept more frequently. The two mountain stages had action from something like 50 k out (which is unusual for any gt, but even more so for the Vuelta) plus there was serious gc action on the two flat stages as well. I don't actually think any of the earlier mountain stages were great, but there wasn't really a bad one either. The climbs were never really controlled, even the big guns often attacked pretty early (Lopez in Andorra comes to mind) and so while none of those stages will be race of the season, there was good racing throughout. In addition I liked some of the medium mountain stages a lot. Of course there was the stage quintana won early in the race (which I missed, who would have guessed), I really liked Gilbert's first win, plus some of the other breakaway battles. I guess what I actually like most about those was the lack of bunch sprints. That last part actually surprised me as there were quite a few stages that could have ended in sprints but didn't. Therefore I also think this still felt very Vuelta esque despite the route not being that much of a classic vuelta route. Only really one murito mtf, a number of stages that offered chances to attack from far out, the mentioned flat stages. But hey, if it works out like that, I'm all in for it. Especially the "attack from far out" part is something I've missed so much in previous editions. When you had the feeling someone was strong enough to maybe pull off a big turn around, while the leader might have weaknesses but there just wasn't any point to realistically try. It was frustrating.
So all in all, how would I rate it? Still no idea, 8 maybe? Despite my negative start to this post I really liked this Vuelta and really wish I had seen more of it. Only thing I'm sure of is I'm still mad Nibali wasn't in this, but at the tour instead.
8 - definitely the best Grand Tour this year. Missing the possible long and epic mountain stages like the Giro, but Vuelta this year was better due to constant stages with action throughout the whole race, and not just the typical "murito stages". Javalambre was a very nice new addition to the race, the Andorra stage was good, same with Los Machucos and the last two mountain stages in Sistema Central had more action than just the last few kms. I miss perhaps one massive climbing stage, but besides that this was a good route and a very good race.
On every mountain stage (8) there were gaps between top GC contenders. Some pretty attacks, not only on the last climb. Moreover - great fight on the stage won by Quintana and on the stage with echelons. Even stages won by breakaways were quite nice: amazing fight by Madrazo and Iturria and strong attack by Gilbert in Bilbao with a close chase by Aranburu and Barcelo.
And I would say this Vuelta was really pretty when it comes to landscapes and tourist sides as well.
This Vuelta is the proof that we don't need very strong startlist to see a very interesting race.
One bad thing: we knew the race winner after Los Machucos practically.
But despite this - I would give 9. The best GT of the year, no doubts.
Definitely the best GT this year. I enjoyed just about every single stage. There was a Lot of tension even though the eventual winner held the Rojo for the last 1/2 of the race. There is more to any GT than the top step!
Overall I quite liked it. I think it needed a bit more altitude and length in the mountain stages. Also the depth of the field was pretty poor with only a couple of riders willing to go all out for a overall win and not just turn up for a high ish placing/podium. Roglic didn't really have any competition for red but that ain't his fault. 8 for me.
The stages were entertaining to watch, but I couldn't get past the fact that the field was weak. It was a bit -- well, not dull, but -- repetititve to see Roglic, Valverde, Quintana, Lopez and Pogacar day in and day out. I'd have loved to see less of a gap from them to the rest of the top 10/15, and a few more quality riders would have changed the character of the race. I doubt that Pogacar would have been off the front for 40km, for example, if Carapaz had been in the race and on form.
This isn't the race's fault, but Lopez and Astana really underperformed which kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not going to jump on the bash Movistar bandwagon, with a 2nd and a 4th they lived up to expectations.
I found this year's Tour -- thanks to Alaphilippe but also the high mountain stages -- much more entertaining; and I always love the Giro.
I gave it a strong 9, close to 10.
Stage-wise, this is exactly bike racing I like to watch. You can largely thank the riders for taking advantage of the opportunities in the route.
Compared to this years Vuelta, the Tour is a 4.
It was the best GT this year. With the other two suffering from the weather. Competition at one point looked really good, but at the end Valverde was satisfied with his position, Pogacar too young and also seem to be happy to be there with Roglic, Quintana was bound to fade as he has done lately and Lopez just being Lopez once again.
Not having many flat stages and having action in most stages is a big plus.
*Emergence of super talent Pogacar.
*Deserved win by Roglic.
*Good stage wins by Gilbert, Fuglsang, Higuita and Quintana.
*Good stage designs in the middle mountains.
*Rather entertaining final week.
*No suspense for red after the time trial.
*Astana and Movistar riding against each other instead of joining forces against Roglic; failure to exploit Roglic' isolation in the final stages.
*Weak sprint field.
*Not enough high mountains.
Always love the Vuelta because it is less predictable and less controlled...Of course Roglic was stand out favourite but beyond GC every stage was unpredictable and the lack of high mountains is what made all the stages so entertaining as they were all ridden all out . I would have liked if there had been a credible rival to Roglic but the IT didn't allow for that ...Pogacar was a better climber imo and Valverde was as good at climbing but the IT sowed up the race for Roglic
Everyday there was a sense of the unknown about each stage which was not the case at the Tour or most of the Giro this year .
I agree there is more to GTs than the race for the winner and the Vuelta best exemplifies this
Plus love the scenery and the weather , etc
Madrazo and Burgos
The cross winds
Roglic and his 1st GT win
Movistar ...everything they did or didnt do, including who was the leader game
The first half of the race and all the different riders in red
Top 10 surprises
Not so Highs
Poor TTing from favourites (not Roglic)
MAL....not climbing well enough
Crashes taking out some top riders than might have changed the race
Solid edition. I gave it a 7, but if I rounded up it’s closer to an 8. Though the GC was decided early, it was always entertaining. There was no moment like Contador at Angliru, Formigal, Froome vs Contador in 2014, but Pogacar’s attack on stage 20 was definitely close.
Was happy Los Machucos returned this year, as it has become one of my favorite stage finishes along with the Angliru.
La Vuelta has been my favorite GT over the last 15 years (since the Heras era), and this year did nothing to knock it off from its perch.