Quick Step hopes to turn a brief home visit to its advantage at this year's Vuelta a España after the team named its final roster for the race on Tuesday. Tom Boonen will captain the team with an eye toward Vuelta stage wins to bring a positive end to what has been a controversial year for the Belgian.
While the hilly, stage four finish in Liège is unlikely to suit Boonen, the days on either side could provide the opportunity for him to put his positive tests for cocaine and subsequent poor performance at the Tour de France behind him.
Boonen has recently shown signs that he may have edged back towards the condition that saw him win his third Paris-Roubaix title in April. He won stage three of the Eneco Tour last week before he pulled out on stage six to complete preparation for the Vuelta. His battle with Garmin sprinter Tyler Farrar at the Benelux Tour provided an insight into the challenge Boonen will face in Spain.
Last year, Quick Step took five Vuelta stage victories, with Boonen responsible for two of those. Another of the team's Vuelta stage winners in 2008, Wouter Weylandt, is also set to return this year.
Stijn Devolder will start his second Grand Tour after racing the Tour de France in July, while Belgian compatriots Kevin De Weert and Maarten Wijnants will face their first three-week race this season.
Italians Matteo Tosatto and Marco Velo will bolster Boonen's leadout train, as will Australian Allan Davis. Quick Step's sole Spanish rider and winner of this month's Clásica San Sebastián Carlos Barredo has also been named.
"We'll be on the starting line with a very competitive team made up of highly valid and motivated riders," said Directeur Sportif Wilfried Peeters. "Our main objective is to win stages, even if it won't be easy to repeat last year's result of five stage wins. This year starting in Holland and passing through the roads of Belgium in front of our fans will give us even more motivation to do well."
Quick Step for the Vuelta a España: Tom Boonen, Wouter Weylandt, Stijn Devolder, Maarten Wynants, Matteo Tosatto, Marco Velo, Allan Davis and Carlos Barredo.
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