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2011 Vuelta a España preview: Antón a top favorite among those who want to see red in Madrid

Wildcards

2011 Tour de France, stage 1: Wiggins
Wiggins on stage 1 of the Tour. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Bradley Wiggins – The Sky captain says he was in the best form of his career at the Tour de France, but never had the chance to show it after crashing out with a broken clavicle. Though healed, Wiggins hasn’t raced a lot. If he loses time in the first two summit finishes at Sierra Nevada and La Covatilla, the Vuelta could become a worlds training camps for Wiggins. If he opens up time in Salamanca, he could ride it all the way to Madrid for a podium shot.

Jurgen Van den Broeck – Similar to Wiggins, Van den Broeck never had a chance to show off his form at the Tour. The Belgian could well be the wildcard for this year’s Vuelta. He’s an aggressive, consistent rider who feels his time has come. Now he wants to prove to the world that Belgians can do more than win one-day classics.

Janez Brajkovic – Another member of the Tour ICU club, Brajkovic was one of the first top names to crash out of the Tour. He still needs to prove he can be a contender for three weeks, so he could be riding to arrive in Madrid with the best-possible position, and not necessarily thinking about outright victory.

Daniel Martin – Jonathan Vaughters sat Martin for the Tour, bringing Tom Danielson instead, who rode to a top-10. The Vuelta’s all for Martin, who should be in with a shot for the top-10, if not more if things go his way.