FDJ without Reichenbach for Vuelta a Espana

French team to chase stages with youthful squad

FDJ will head to the Vuelta a España without planned leader Sebastien Reichenbach, who has been suffering with a virus since the Tour de Suisse. Instead, the French team will chase stage wins with a youthful squad that was unveiled on Tuesday. 

Reichenbach is one Thibaut Pinot's key mountain domestiques, and helped the Frenchman to fourth overall at this year's Giro d'Italia, himself finishing 15th. While Pinot went to the Tour de France as a free agent in a team built around sprinter Arnaud Demare, Reichenbach was given the chance to play his own cards in the Vuelta, but has struggled to overcome the virus. 

After abandoning Tour de Suisse, he returned to action at the Tour de Pologne at the end of July but again failed to finish.

"After the virus I contracted at the Tour de Suisse, I've not been able to recover well. I'd therefore prefer to miss the Vuelta a Espana," he told Swiss newspaper, La Nouvelliste

Announcing the final line-up on Tuesday, the FDJ team hailed an "offensive team, free from any general classification objective" that it hopes can repeat the stage wins enjoyed in both the Giro and Tour earlier this season. 

For the flatter stages, the team will look to the trio of Anthony Roux, winner of a Vuelta stage back in 2009, Lorrenzo Manzin, who finished top-10 on four occasions in last year's race, and Daniel Hoelgaard, one of three Grand Tour debutants in the line-up.

Another is Marc Fournier, who, along with Tobias Ludvigsson, should provide horsepower in the build-up to those sprints.

The Vuelta, though, is known for its climbs, and the Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking might look at the punchier summit finishes, while the third Grand Tour debutant, Jeremy Maison, is described as a "creative climber" who will be given "free rein". Along with Reichenbach, the team will miss fellow Swiss climber Steve Morabito, who was ruled out when he underwent surgery on a knee injury at the end of January.

Rounding out the team are all-rounders Johan Le Bon, who won the prologue at the recent Tour de l'Ain, and Arnaud Courteille. The average age across the nine riders is just 25. 

The 2017 Vuelta will have special significance for the FDJ team as the race starts on French soil, with an opening team time trial in Nimes on Saturday followed by a flat stage to Aude.

FDJ for the 2017 Vuelta a España: Arnaud Courteille, Odd Christian Eiking, Marc Fournier, Daniel Hoelgaard, Johan Le Bon, Tobias Ludvigsson, Jeremy Maison, Lorrenzo Manzin, Anthony Roux.

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