2021 Vuelta a Espana

Who Will Be The 2021 Vuelta a España Surprise Rider?

Who Will Be The 2021 Vuelta a España Surprise Rider?

Heading towards the Vuelta a España, who could surprise the top stars in the 2021 edition? FloBikes looks at the five underdogs in the startlist.

Aug 3, 2021 by Gregor Brown
Teams Turn To Vuelta For Redemption

Heading towards the Vuelta a España, Primoz Roglic, Egan Bernal, and Richard Carapaz stand above everyone as favorites, but who could surprise the top stars in the 2021 edition?

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FloBikes digs deep into the startlist to talk about the five riders who could turn a few heads in the overall battle from Aug. 14 to Sept. 5.

Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)

He is not a complete dark horse, but what exactly Max Schachmann or 'The Schach' will do in the Vuelta remains unknown. Most would assume he will race for stages, but given the chance, Schachmann could win the overall in this grand tour. He showed earlier this spring in Paris-Nice his depth, adding another overall win to match his title from 2020. If he manages the time trials well and packs his climbing legs for Spain, then he should be at least considered for a top five finish.

Enric Mas (Movistar Team)

Eyes have been on this Spaniard from Mallorca since his ride to second overall in the 2018 Vuelta, and now he could seal the deal with an overall title. Enric Mas comes off a sixth place overall in the Tour de France and should have the legs to ride to the top. However, Movistar must sort out the leadership roles with Mas, Miguel Angel López, and Marc Soler.

Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo)

It's amazing to think that Colombian Rigoberto Urán has not won a grand tour in his 17-year career. He has come close: a second place to Chris Froome in the 2017 Tour de France and twice second overall in the Giro d'Italia. He is always around the top favorites and the Tour this summer showed us that he can attack when needed instead of just riding defensively. He will be encouraged by an eighth place in both the Olympic Road Race and Time Trial when the Vuelta starts in Burgos.

Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious)

Wout Poels should be on your list, but many may overlook him after he's failed to live up to the hype since leaving Team Sky. However, team Bahrain-Victorious is on a stormer of a year and Poels seems to be riding that wave. He left the Tour de France with two top five stage finishes and second in the mountains classification behind the yellow jersey winner Tadej Pogacar. Staying in Europe instead of flying to the Tokyo Games, should serve Peols well as he goes for the Vuelta's red jersey.

Romain Bardet (Team DSM)

Frenchman Romain Bardet also skipped the Tokyo Games with his focus fully on the Spanish Grand Tour. Bardet already placed second in the 2016 Tour de France and third the following year, so he knows what it takes to win the overall in the Vuelta. However, he remains an underdog because he has yet to live up to the hype the French put on him early on. Having not raced since May 30, when he finished seventh in the Giro d'Italia, Bardet will be one to watch over the next three weeks.