Vuelta a Espana: Roglic targeting treble, Bernal hunting clean sweep

By Sports Desk August 13, 2021

Primoz Roglic will start his quest for a hat-trick of Vuelta a Espana titles when the final Grand Tour race of the year starts in Burgos on Saturday.

Team Jumbo-Visma rider Roglic has won the Vuelta in each of the peast two years and is favourite to continue his dominance of the race.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal will be expected to mount a strong challenge after skipping the Tour de France, while the Colombian's INEOS Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates could have a big say.

This 76th edition of the race will have eight mountain top finishes, with 11 stages featuring mountains, including the Picon Blanco with a gradient in some sections of the climb at 17 per cent.

Stats Perform picks out the big stories and standout Opta facts ahead of a race that will finish in Santiago de Compostela on September 5.
 

OLYMPIC CHAMPION ROGLIC TARGETING RARE TREBLE

Roglic put his Tour de France woes behind him to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics last month, claiming Slovenia's first gold medal in any cycling discipline.

The 31-year-old abandoned the Tour after a brutal first week but should start the Vuelta on a high from his heroics in Japan.

Roglic will be bidding to move level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three Vuelta triumphs if he wins the red jersey – one shy of Roberto Heras' record.

He would also become the first rider to win the race three times in a row since Spaniard Heras in 2005.

 


BERNAL LEADS INEOS CHALLENGE

Bernal claimed his maiden Giro title this year after winning his first Grand Tour crown in the 2019 Tour.

The 24-year-old sat out the 2021 Tour and has been training at altitude in his homeland ahead of a bid to complete a clean sweep of Grand Tour titles.

Bernal could become only the third Colombian to win the race, with Nairo Quintana being the last in 2016.

INEOS have a strong hand as Carapaz and Yates plot a title challenge.
 

LANDA HOPEFUL OF ENDING SPANISH DROUGHT

No Spanish rider has triumphed in the previous six editions of the race on home soil. If that extends to seven, it will be an unwanted record drought.

But Mikel Landa is hopeful of topping the podium after winning the Vuelta de Burgos following his recovery from a broken collarbone and several broken ribs suffered in a Giro crash.

He told the Deia: "Winning the Vuelta de Burgos was unexpected, but it was a great morale boost after so long out injured.

"Now I am going to the Vuelta with optimism. At the end of the day, I haven't competed much this year and I have the bit between my teeth after the Giro. I know I have to be careful, because I am still lacking a bit of form, but I am very motivated."

Related items

  • Brilliant Buttler blasts Royals into IPL final with another hundred Brilliant Buttler blasts Royals into IPL final with another hundred

    The latest episode in Jos Buttler's outstanding 2022 IPL took Rajasthan Royals through to the final and a rematch with Gujarat Titans.

    The Royals were beaten by the Titans in the first qualifier, forcing them to face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday for a place in the season's showpiece.

    Buttler ensured RCB were soundly beaten, smashing an unbeaten 106 off 60 balls to clinch a seven-wicket victory.

    The Royals still had 11 balls to spare when Buttler's sixth six completed the job on 161-3.

    None of the England star's team-mates had to pass 25 runs as he did all the heavy lifting in partnerships of 61 with Yashasvi Jaiswal, 52 with Sanju Samson, 35 with Devdutt Padikkal and 13 with Shimron Hetmyer in reply to RCB's 157-8.

    A stunning Buttler catch had removed the dangerous Rajat Patidar (58) in the outstanding moment of the RCB innings, too, as his almost single-handed pursuit of the title continued.

    Buttler blowing away the competition

    This has long since been Buttler's best IPL campaign, and there remains a slim chance he also takes the tournament record. In pursuit of Virat Kohli's 973 runs in 2016, he moved on to 824 for this tournament with his fourth century. The rest of the players in this year's IPL have produced only four hundreds between them.

    As well as the most runs in the 2022 IPL, Buttler leads the way for fours (78, 26 clear of second place) and sixes (45, 11 clear).

    Top two tussle once again

    This will be the Royals' first final since the inaugural IPL in 2008, when they took the title, but Rajasthan will have their work cut out against a Titans side who are in their debut season.

    Gujarat finished two points ahead of the second-placed Royals in the points table, having won the match between the pair by 37 runs. The margin in the subsequent qualifier was seven wickets. Buttler top-scored for Rajasthan on both occasions, but their opponents have collectively shown they have the firepower to match him.

  • Marcelo and Courtois hail Ancelotti impact ahead of Champions League final Marcelo and Courtois hail Ancelotti impact ahead of Champions League final

    Real Madrid duo Marcelo and Thibaut Courtois have hailed Carlo Ancelotti's impact on the side on the eve of their Champions League final clash with Liverpool, with the former saying he is "lucky" to have worked with the Italian.

    Ancelotti has made a stunning impact since returning to the club he led to the 2014 Champions League title, winning LaLiga by a 13-point margin and leading Los Blancos to the showpiece event in Paris against all odds.

    Madrid have become the first team to reach the competition's final after losing a game in each of the last 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, while Ancelotti could win the trophy for a fourth time as head coach.

    That would make the Italian the most successful boss in the competition's history outright, and he has won three of his previous four Champions League finals – though his one such defeat came against Liverpool as Milan boss in 2005.

    Speaking alongside Ancelotti at Madrid's pre-match press conference in Paris, both players hailed the Italian's abilities to communicate with Los Blancos' star-studded squad, with Marcelo saying he felt fortunate to have worked under the 62-year-old.

    "I've known him for eight years, I've been lucky enough to train with him," the Brazilian said of his head coach.

    "He understands football very well and knows how to manage the locker room. It's normal that we all want to play. 

    "This season we haven't had almost any problems, the coach leaves us alone, tells us the truth. That gives confidence to work."

    Madrid goalkeeper Courtois, who is yet to win European football's biggest prize and was a runner-up to Los Blancos when on loan at Atletico Madrid in 2014, echoed the left-back's praise of Ancelotti, crediting him and his staff with fostering an excellent team spirit at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    "The good dynamics of the team is due to the coaching staff, we train very well and we know that they make decisions," he said.

    "But they manage it very well, everyone has played. That's why we are where we are."

    Including Marcelo, Madrid have four different players in their squad to have made 100 or more Champions League appearances (Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo, and David Alaba). 

    They could become the first team to name a starting XI in the competition's final featuring four or more players with a century of Champions League appearances, having fielded three in their 2018 final win over Jurgen Klopp's team (Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos).

    Meanwhile, Marcelo, who is out of contract at the end of this season, says any decision on whether he will extend his 15-year stay with Madrid will be made after the final.

    While the 34-year-old was unwilling to give any hints as to where his future may lie, he referred to the Spanish giants as "the club of his life", and says the team has given him "everything" in his career.

    "Everyone knows my passion and my love for the club of my life, which is Madrid," Marcelo added. 

    "[Former club] Fluminense was in its time, it gave me everything at the beginning. Madrid has given me everything too. 

    "I won't say what I think now. I don't want a statue, my story is made in Madrid, and I will continue to do so. After the final, we'll see what we do."

  • Benzema continuing to grow as a leader, says Ancelotti Benzema continuing to grow as a leader, says Ancelotti

    Karim Benzema is continuing to grow as a leader on and off the pitch after inspiring Real Madrid to the Champions League final, according to head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

    The France international leads the scoring charts in this season's competition with 15 goals, which is just two behind Cristiano Ronaldo's all-time record in a single campaign.

    That includes back-to-back hat-tricks in the knockout-stage wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, and three goals across both legs against Manchester City in the semis.

    Benzema is enjoying his best campaign yet in front of goal and will look to round off 2021-22 in style when Madrid face Liverpool in Saturday's final at Stade de France in Paris.

    Asked what improvements he has seen in Benzema this season, Ancelotti said: "He has more personality and leadership now on and off the pitch.

    "What has not changed is his quality, which is still top, and also his humility."

    At 34 years and 160 days, Benzema is out to become the second-oldest player to score in the Champions League final after Paolo Maldini (36y 333d) for Milan – also against Liverpool in 2005.

    The 34-year-old has happy memories of playing against the Reds, having opened the scoring in Madrid's 3-1 victory when the sides met in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

    Marcelo, who was also on the pitch that day and is seeking an incredible 25th trophy with Los Blancos this weekend, has also been impressed by Benzema's leadership qualities.

    "He has shown that [leadership], though it's not just been this season," Marcelo said at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

    "His character and presence has helped the team a lot. He doesn't even need to talk for that. He plays great football for us."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.