Froome aiming for Tour-Vuelta double; Briton joins impressive Vuelta a España line-up

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Having twice finished second overall in the race, Chris Froome will seek to become only the third rider in history to complete the Tour de France/Vuelta a España double.

After a period of silence about whether or not he will take part, the British Sky rider has confirmed his participation and indicated that he is heading to the event with big ambitions.

Froome first showed his potential as a Grand Tour rider in the 2011 edition of the race. He finished second overall there behind the surprise victor Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC). The Sky rider was just thirteen seconds back overall, and likely would have won had he not had to wait for Bradley Wiggins on several occasions.

The latter finished third overall, one minute 39 seconds behind.

The time gap between first and second was one of the closest-ever in the history of the race.

Froome went on to take second overall behind Wiggins in the following year’s Tour de France, again being required to wait for the older rider in the mountains. There was some debate about whether or not he would have won, but he returned to the event twelve months later and dominated it.

Fourth in the 2012 Vuelta, he showed signs of fatigue from the Tour. He again rode both races last season, but was fresher in the Spanish event as he was forced to retire from the Tour de France due to crashes on stages four and five.

He ended up second overall behind the winner Alberto Contador, but got his revenge on the Spaniard this July when he notched up his second Tour victory.

The mental and physical toll of that effort led to him taking time to decide whether or not to ride the Spanish event but now, twelve days before the opening stage, he has finally confirmed he will chase the leader’s red jersey there.

Glittering field for cycling’s third Grand Tour:

Froome’s participation means that the Vuelta will have one of its strongest-ever fields. Although Contador has decided not to take part due to fatigue, ending his season early, a number of proven GC riders will take part.

These include 2014 Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana, who finished second to Froome in both the 2013 and 2015 Tours. Also heading to Spain is the Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), winner of the 2010 Vuelta, the 2013 Giro d’Italia and the 2014 Tour.

Quintana’s Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde placed third in the 2015 Tour and, fired up by that, wants to repeat his 2009 Vuelta win. Fellow Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is seeking to improve on his Vuelta podium finishes in 2010 and 2013, while compatriot Mikel Landa wants to step up to the top step after netting third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

His Astana team-mate Fabio Aru will also ride and is aiming to build on his second in the Giro, although the presence of Nibali and Landa in the field will likely mean that one of the three will become the protected rider as the race unfolds.

Others regarded as having the ability to fight for red include the young American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), motivated to bounce back after illness forced him out of the Tour while in third overall.

Further contenders include Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Sunday’s Tour of Utah winner Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale–Garmin).

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