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by Shane Stokes
August 20, 2014
As the days tick down until Saturday’s start of the Vuelta a España in Jerez de la Frontera, the BMC Racing Team has confirmed that three of its strongest riders will take the start, each holding different ambitions for the event.
Former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez is thought likely to lead the team, with general manager Jim Ochowicz telling CyclingTips during the Tour de France that the Spaniard would be the number one rider in th event.
Ochowicz said that an agreement had been reached with 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans to support Sanchez after the latter supported him in the Giro d’Italia. The 2009 runner-up showed solid form lately when he finished twelfth overall in the Tour de Pologne, and he will have aimed his training to be in peak form for the Spanish race.
However Evans’ strong form and two stage wins in the recent Tour of Utah gives the team another option for the overall and if things play out tactically and physically to put him in a better overall position, the team will row in behind him.
“Our ambition is to get the best possible overall result with either Cadel or Samuel,” said directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois. “Both have recovered well from the Giro. They aren’t the favourites for the Vuelta since three riders look stronger on paper: Chris Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez who came out of the Tour de France with a great condition, and Nairo Quintana, who has to do well in what is Movistar’s main goal of the year.
“If the three of them are at 100% of their capacities, they’ll have to handle the responsibilities in the race. But at the Vuelta, experience prevails. Cadel and Samuel are classy riders and they have that kind of experience likely to make a difference in special circumstances. Samuel knows all the roads in Spain, even the most hidden ones.”
Gilbert is another of the team’s strongest riders but will target the race with one specific objective: to get into the best possible shape for the world road race championship, a race he won in the past.
He will support Sanchez and Evans in their bid for success and will also grab opportunities for stage wins.
“One year ago, Philippe had to undergo an operation for a knee injury after the Eneco Tour,” said Ledanois, speaking about his condition then and now. “He didn’t start the Vuelta in full capacity. Yet he managed to win a stage and ride well at the world championship [where he was ninth – ed.].
“This time around, he’ll arrive in Spain in a much better condition and some stages really suit him.”
The nine-man team will also include Rohan Dennis, who completed a rare mid-season transfer from Garmin-Sharp and who showed strong form this year with runner-up slots in the Circuit de la Sarthe, the Tour of California and the individual time trial of the Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve chosen strong riders who are on form at the right time to perform at the Vuelta,” said Ledanois.