On Monday, March 22nd, the cycling world turns its attention towards Catalonia, Spain, for the 100th edition of the Volta a Catalunya also known as the Tour of Catalonia.
This race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but it’s an important event as this seven stage race is one of three stage-races held in Spain and it also tends to mark the beginning of the cycling season for many Grand Tour riders preparing for the upcoming Grand Tours.
This year’s Volta a Catalunya is no different as many GC riders for the three Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a Espana) will compete in this race.
Furthermore, only three of the top GC riders in the sport won’t be racing (Pogacar, Bernal and Roglic). That means the 100th edition of the Volta will be filled with star power, fireworks, and plenty of thrilling racing action.
Chris Froome, Peter Sagan and Richard Carapaz headline Volta a Catalunya
Stellar field face first flat time trial since 1998, tough new ascent to Montjuichttps://t.co/qe8hACN3Bg pic.twitter.com/DXjRi4TXpa
Cycling betting sites have released their Volta a Catalunya odds. Let’s strap on our helmets, get into our snazzy jerseys, and super tuck our way to some race winning predictions.
2021 Volta a Catalunya Route
The 100th edition of the Volta a Catalunya will span seven days and travel nearly 1100km (680miles) across northeast Spain. This year’s route is as follows:
Pla de l’Estany (Banyoles) to Pla de l’Estany (Banyoles)
Individual Time Trial
Canal Olimpic de Catalunya to Vallter 2000
Ripoll to Port Aine (Pallars Sobira)
La Pobla de Segur to Manresa
Tarragona to Mataro
Previous Volta a Catalunya Winners
The first Volta a Catalunya was held in 1911 and won by Sebastia Masdeu. Since then, Mariana Canardo would go on to win this race a record seven times. Spain has won this race 60 times, which is the most of any country. Miguel Angel Lopez won this race in 2019, which was the last time it was held.
The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 2005:
2005: Yaroslav Popovych
2006: David Canada
2007: Vladimir Karpets
2008: Gustavo Cesar
2009: Alejandro Valverde
2010: Joaquim Rodriguez
2011: Michele Scarponi
2012: Michael Albasini
2013: Dan Martin
2014: Joaquim Rodriguez
2015: Richie Porte
2016: Nairo Quintana
2017: Alejandro Valverde
2018: Alejandro Valverde
2019: Miguel Angel Lopez
Volta a Catalunya Betting Odds
The following cycling odds are courtesy of Bovada:
Adam Yates (+250)
Simon Yates (+500)
Richard Carapaz (+800)
Richie Porte (+800)
Hugh Carthy (+1200)
Joao Almeida (+1200)
Steven Kruijswijk (+1400
Sepp Kuss (+1600)
Geraint Thomas (+1800)
Nairo Quintana (+1800)
Clement Champoussin (+3300)
Lucas Hamilton (+3300)
Wilco Kelderman (+3300)
Enric Mas Nicolau (+4000)
Jai Hindley (+4000)
Lennard Kamna (+4000)
Michael Woods (+4000)
Rigoberto Uran (+4000)
Marc Hirschi (+5000)
Dan Martin (+6600)
George Bennett (+6600)
Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (+6600)
Rohan Dennis (+6600)
Wouter Poels (+6600)
Alejandro Valverde (+8000
Marc Soler (+8000)
Chris Froome (+10000)
Volta a Catalunya Betting Favorites
Adam Yates – To Win: (+250), Top 3: (-167)
Team Ineos is the top team for this year’s Volta a Catalunya (VaC) as they feature numerous GC riders and past Grand Tour winners.
Ineos is led by Adam Yates, but they also have Richard Carapaz, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas. This is a super team and they will be tough to beat at the VaC.
It really is hard to pick which rider will get the captain treatment, but it appears that Yates is the first man up for the leadership role.
He raced in the UAE Tour and finished 2nd overall to Pogacar who will not be in this race.
Yates has competed in this race four previous times with his best result coming in 2019 where he finished 2nd overall. He also won his only stage of this race that year.
The 2021 VaC is suited for Yates with punchy hills and big mountain tops. However, the ITT could hurt his overall GC time and his teammate Carapaz could outperform him in the high mountains.
Simon Yates – To Win: (+500), Top 3 (-105)
After seven years riding together, the Yates brothers will now be competing against each other as Adam is with Ineos and Simon is with Team BikeExchange.
Simon competed in his first and only race of the season when he finished 10th at the Tirreno-Adriatico. It was a decent showing for a former Grand Tour winner looking to get back to the top of at least one of the three Grand Tours this year.
This will be Simon’s third appearance in the Volta a Catalunya. His best showing was in 2018 when he finished 4th. He also scored his only stage win of this race that year.
Yates is a solid rider who should be a Top 7 GC rider in this race, but he doesn’t have as strong of a team as other race favorites.
Richard Carapaz – To Win: (+800), Top 3 (-105)
As mentioned, Carapaz is also on Ineos and he will certainly be one of the riders to watch out for as there are two stages that finish in high altitude which is where he shines best.
The hills and medium stages will see Carapaz finish with the best of the field, but his ability to climb could put him in the men of state. His time trial performance could be the one thing that prevents him from winning this race or finishing on the podium.
This will be his first race of the season, so there is some concern as to how explosive his legs are. Furthermore, this is only his second appearance of the VaC. Yet, the former Giro d’Italia winner sounds confident in his chances this week:
“The Volta a Catalunya is a race that I’ve done in previous editions and I think this year is very special because it has two climbs that can be very good for me. I think it’s going to be a tough race, one of the first where we’ll be there with the team before the Tour de France, and we’re going to try to do it as best we can.”
If he’s on top form then Carapaz will be a contender and could assume the mantle of team leader.
Richie Porte – To Win: +800, Top 3 (+125)
Apparently online betting sites love Team Ineos for this race as Porte is another betting favorite from the talented team.
Porte did one stage of Paris-Nice and didn’t finish. That’s his only action of the season so far, which is not a lot to go off of.
Of Yates, Carapaz, and Porte, Richie is the best time trialist which could keep him high in the standings. However, I have a hard time seeing him hang with the other race favorites when it gets to the high mountains due to his lack of racing so far. Porte has five previous appearances in the Volta a Catalunya with two DNFs, a 38th, a 4th in 2016 and a race win in 2015.
Although he’s a former winner, Porte is overvalued and I would avoid him for this race.
Hugh Carthy – To Win: (+1200), Top 3 (+250)
Hugh Carthy is one of three riders (along with Kuss and Froome) that I really want to see how he performs in this race.
As of now, Carthy has only had a few small appearances just to get the legs some kilometers. This VaC will be his first real action against the top contenders.
When we last saw Carth, he had put together a masterful performance in last year’s Vuelta a Espana where he finished 3rd overall.
Carthy has the ability to hang with the top climbers, but is also one of the better time trialists when it comes to the GC riders. He will be the leader of a strong EF Education team that also features Uran and Van Gaderen. They will be one of the top squads in this race.
Hugh has four previous VaC appearances with his best result coming in 2016 when he finished 9th.
Best Volta a Catalunya Betting Value
Steven Kruijswijk – To Win: (+1400), Top 3: (+350)
Kruijswijk will lead a three headed monster for Team Jumbo-Visma which is the one squad that can compete against Team Ineos.
“All three of our leaders will be able to go for their chances and try to achieve the best possible result in the general classification”??
He has one race under his belt this year and that was at Paris-Nice earlier this month where he was there to support Primoz Roglic. Kruijswijk made the following comments about that race and this week’s event:
“I hope to be able to really compete in the general classification. Paris-Nice was besides supporting Primoz also a race to get back into it.”
Kruijswijk has nine previous appearances in the VaC. His best result came in 2019 when he was 5th overall.
Although he’s never won this race before, Kruijswijk could be a sneaky pick this year due to the great supporting cast and a route that suits his abilities.
Sepp Kuss – To Win: (+1600), Top 3 (+350)
One of my favorite riders in pro cycling, along with Froome, Van Aert, Roglic and Sagan, is the American Sepp Kuss. He’s a very talented climber who’s really coming into his own as a rider.
Like his teammate Kruijswijk, Kuss rode in support of others in the UAE Tour, which has been his only race of the year so far.
Now, he heads to Spain where Kuss will be called upon to do a lot of damage and defend the attacks in the mountains for Kruijswijk. If there’s any concern with the team leader then Kuss or Bennett could take over that role.
This will be his 2nd appearance in this race. In 2019, he had a DNF in his only VaC start.
Geraint Thomas To Win: (+1800), Top 3 (+1800)
Last, but not least for Team Ineos is Geraint Thomas. The former Tour de France winner has competed in a few events this year with his last appearance coming in the Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished 24th. It’s unclear what his intentions will be for this week’s event.
Thomas has the skills to win this race especially since he’s a strong time trialist. But, he appears to be 3rd or 4th in line on the Team Ineos pecking order.
If Thomas is in great form and the others aren’t, he could be thrust into the leadership which is why there’s some value with his odds. However, the smart play when it comes to Team Ineos is to go with Yates or Carapaz.
Thomas has two VaC appearances with his last one coming in 2017 where he finished 34th. His other result was a DNF in 2016.
Top Longshots to Win the Volta a Catalunya
Alejandro Valverde – To Win: (+8000), Top 3 (+1800)
2021 hasn’t been good to Team Movistar so far. They’re one of just a few teams that haven’t scored a win this season. Furthermore, they’re the only team that hasn’t finished on the podium.
Now, they return to their home country where Alejandro Valverde has won this race three times including two in a row (2017-18).
Furthermore, they have won three of the last four VaC races as Nairo Quintana won this event in 2016 when he was still with Movistar.
This season hasn’t been stellar for Valverde. Yet, his home country tends to bring out some of his old magic.
In his 10 previous starts, Valverde has four podium finishes which includes three wins and a runner up in 2015. He’s also won nine stages in the Volta a Catalunya.
Chris Froome – To Win: (+10000), Top 3 (+2200)
Froome made his season debut at the UAE Tour where he completed that seven stage race, but finished 47th. It was a chance to get some mileage on his legs and begin the trek towards peak form in time for the Tour de France.
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) March 21, 2021
Froome will use this week’s Volta a Catalunya to continue his preparations for the Grand Tour season:
“I will be using the race as an opportunity to push the legs further towards race fitness. I love racing on Spanish roads and I am looking forward to testing myself in the mountains to see how I’ve progressed.”
This will be his 8th start in the VaC. He’s never won this race before. Froome’s best finish was in 2014 where he was 6th. He’s also never won a stage before, but does have two runner ups.
Froome is clearly a longshot, but he’s on a solid team that also has Daryl Impey, Dan Martin, Michael Woods and Alexander Cataford. I expect this team to compete for stages and not the overall race win.
Who Will be the Podium Finishers?
This is an extremely tough prediction to make due to the number of outstanding riders in this year’s Volta a Catalunya. However, the following are my picks for podium finishers with their Top 3 odds courtesy of DraftKings:
Richard Carapaz (-105)
Hugh Carthy (+250)
Steven Kruijswijk (+350)
All three of these riders offer value with Kruijswijk offering the best betting value at 3 ½ to 1.
Of these three, Carapaz is the best climber. But, Kruijswijk is the best time trialist. Carthy is somewhere in between.
Who Wins the 2021 Volta a Catalunya?
If this were a Grand Tour then I would probably go with Carapaz to win the race. However, since this is roughly 1/3rd the time and distance of a Grand Tour I am leaning towards Kruijswijk instead.
That’s not because he can’t win a Grand Tour. In fact, Kruijswijk has finished in the Top 5 four times in a Grand Tour. But, the reason I like him is that he’s a better TT than Carthy and Carapaz.
Additionally, Kruijswijk has already competed in a highly competitive stage race when he rode in support for Primoz Roglic. In that event, Kruijswijk finished 11th in the time trial. Of the top GC contenders of the sport, only Roglic performed better.
Carapaz is making his debut this season and Carthy has only competed in two small one day races. Lastly, Kruijswijk is the captain of his team where Carapaz is not. Although Carthy will most likely be the captain of his team, I don’t see him beating out Kruijswijk in the end.
Who Wins the Volta a Catalunya? – Steven Kruijswijk (+1400)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …