Vuelta a España: Teams to back Froome, Quintana and Valverde announced
The line-ups that will back the Tour de France podium finishers in their bids to win the Vuelta a España have been announced, with both Team Sky and Movister confirming their nine-man teams on Monday.
Tour champion Chris Froome will be backed by two of the riders who helped him win the Tour, namely Welshman Geraint Thomas and the Irishman Nicolas Roche.
Also joining them are the Colombian climber Sergio Henao, Mikel Nieve of Spain, Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus), Christian Knees (Germany), Salvatore Puccio (Italy) and the Grand Tour debutant, Ian Boswell (United States).
Team leader Chris Froome said: “I have great memories from this race so I’m pleased to be back,” said Froome, who was second in 2011 and again in 2014. “I’ve had a good rest after the Tour and now I’m ready for my next challenge.
“It will certainly be a very competitive race given the strong field – which will be great for the fans to watch. The competition will be tough and this is bike racing so anything can happen, but we have an excellent team and we’re ready to get the race started.”
He is aiming to become only the third rider in history to win both the Tour and Vuelta in the same season. Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault are the only ones to do so thus far.
Team Principal Dave Brailsford said that winning the Tour de France for the third time made it an unforgettable summer, but that the team couldn’t be content with just that.
“It’s important to move on quickly, realign our goals and focus on the new challenges ahead. We’ve selected a strong squad for the Vuelta that has the right blend of talent and experience to support Chris Froome through the tough three weeks ahead.”
Meanwhile the riders who finished behind Froome in Paris, Nairo Quintana and Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde are seeking revenge in the Spanish Grand Tour.
Quintana was stronger than Froome in the final week and ended the Tour just one minute and 12 seconds back. The winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia is regarded by many as a future winner of the French event and he is determined to continue his Grand Tour evolution by trying to take the red jersey in the Vuelta.
They will be backed by Spaniards Javi Moreno, Imanol Erviti, Fran Ventoso and José Joaquín Rojas, Australia’s Rory Sutherland, Italian Giovanni Visconti and Andrey Amador (Costa Rica).
The team’s general manager Eusebio Unzué said that the lineup was the ideal one for the team.
“We didn’t have to leave riders who were ready for the Vuelta out of our roster,” he said. “We asked José Herrada and Beñat Intxausti, who had already ridden another Grand Tour, to remain in decent form should any misfortune happen, but luckily, the nine riders we kept in mind are perfectly fit to ride and are the most appropriate ones.
“Even though some of them might not be able to stick to the front into long climbs hit at a hard pace, all of them can get well through almost any mountain stage in this Vuelta. Most of the lads are fresh – Sutherland, Moreno, Rojas, Ventoso – with no GTs on their race programme so far, and the whole block is raring to go, which gives us a great guarantee of success.”