The 2010 Vuelta a Espana rolls out one cycling team at a time on Saturday as the three-week Grand Tour across the Spanish countryside opens with a 10-mile team time trial.
Live broadcasts of the Vuelta a Espana can be viewed on the Universal Sports cable channel (check local listings) every day of the bike race, Saturday through Sept. 19. UniversalSports.com will provide live steaming coverage of every stage, plus other extras, at its website for $14.99.
See also: Six Americans cycling at Vuelta a Espana
Many of the cyclists who came up short during this year's Giro d' Italia or Tour de France will be battling for a final shot at a Grand Tour victory — the coveted red jersey.
The Vuelta is celebrating its 65th edition by changing the leader's jersey from golden to red, the same color as Spain's national teams. The red jersey won't be awarded until after Stage 1, because last year's defending champion Alejandro Valverde is serving a 2-year doping suspension.
Among the favorites to be wearing that red jersey when the race ends in Madrid are one of the brothers Schleck, either Andy or Frank, or two-time winner Denis Menchov. Americans Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde from Garmin-Transitions also are mentioned among the top 10.
The Team Saxo Bank's Schleck brothers of Luxembourg are both considered contenders. Andy Schleck came up just a few seconds short to Alberto Contador at the Tour de France as the result of a slipped chain. Brother Frank Schleck had a promising early season but crashed out of the Tour on the third stage.
Russian Menchov on Rabobank finished 3rd overall at the Tour de France this year and has two previous Vuelta championships on his resume. Spain's Carlos Sastre recently touted him to win.
When CyclingNews.com picked its top 10 favorites, it named Garmin-Transitions' Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson as possibilities. Vande Velde also seemed destined for a promising year in 2010, but crashes early in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France ended his chances. Danielson has seemed to do better in the US than in Europe this year, but team manager Tom Vaughters told CyclingNews that he has potential.
Another Garmin-Transistion cyclist who is expected to make a splash is Wenatchee, Washington's Tyler Farrar. He'll be battling Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) for stage victories.
None of these cyclists are actually confirmed for the race, however, as the official roster has yet to be posted at the official Vuelta a Espana website. You can check here for individual riders for the Vuelta whenever they get around to posting.
TV coverage and streaming
Once again, Universal Sports is offering live coverage of a Grand Tour to US audiences.
It's 176 hour of coverage begin with a pre-race show at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, followed by the team time trial at 4 p.m.
Regular daily bike race coverage starts at 10 a.m. (ET) for the following three weeks; Universal will offer a recap show at 10 a.m. (ET) on rest days Sept. 6 and 14.
The UniversalSports.com website will offer live streaming coverage of the race, plus video recaps, highlights, real-time rider location and other features for $14.99. Sign-up at UniversalSports.com.