Team Sky has named Sergio Henao as its leader for the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Galicia on Saturday. The Colombian is at the head of a strong line-up, which also includes his fellow countryman Rigoberto Uran, as well as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Dario Cataldo.
Uran finished in second place at the Giro d’Italia in May but is set to join Omega Pharma-QuickStep next season, and perhaps with that switch in mind, Henao has been given the nod as team leader.
After claiming victory at the Tour de France with Chris Froome, Sky manager Dave Brailsford is confident that his squad can be highly competitive in the third Grand Tour of the season.
“It’s a testament to the strength and depth in this team that we can line up in all three Grand Tours this year with such strong squads,” said Brailsford, who explained that Henao has earned the leadership of the team at the Vuelta.
“We’ve watched Sergio develop since he joined the team and this is a great opportunity for him to demonstrate what he is capable of on a big stage like the Vuelta.”
Henao joined Sky in 2012, and has been a solid performer in Grand Tours over the past two seasons. Last season, he finished 9th at the Giro and 14th in the Vuelta, while he finished 16th at this year’s Giro after working for first Bradley Wiggins and then Uran.
The 25-year-old enjoyed a very consistent spring campaign, finishing second at Flèche Wallonne and third at the Tour of the Basque Country, as well as claiming a stage win at the Volta ao Algarve. He recently finished 5th at the Tour of Poland, his sole race between the Giro and the Vuelta.
“The Vuelta is a huge race for me and an important and prestigious event. It is an honour to be picked as the team leader and it's a responsibility that I want to try and fulfil,” Henao said. “I respect what the team has asked of me and I want to try and make the most out of the opportunity.”
Henao’s teammate Uran is ready to step into the role of leader if called upon – “We have selected a squad for all eventualities out on the road,” Brailsford said – and the strong Sky line-up also includes Dario Cataldo, who won a stage of the Vuelta last year.
Luke Rowe, Salvatore Puccio, Zabier Zandio and Christian Knees have also been selected, along with two riders who were part of Sky’s Tour de France team but forced out of the race prematurely. Vasil Kiryienka finished outside the time limit on the second stage in the Pyrenees, while Edvald Boasson Hagen crashed out in the second week, but both riders are aiming to make an impact in Spain.
Sky team for the Vuelta a España: Sergio Henao (Col), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Vasil Kiryienka (Blr), Christian Knees (Ger), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Luke Rowe (GBr), Rigoberto Uran (Col) and Xabier Zandio (Spa).