Omega Pharma-Quick Step has announced its team for the 2014 Vuelta a España which will be led by Rigoberto Uran. The Colombian was second overall at the Giro d'Italia for the second consecutive year in May and will line up in Jerez on August 23 confident of a high overall placing.
"The team is built up around Rigoberto Uran, who will get full support from his teammates," sport and development manager Rolf Aldag said on the team website. "During the Giro d'Italia, Rigoberto proved he has the skills for the major tours, so he deserves the support of the team. His approach to the race was similar to the one set in motion for the Giro d'Italia. Some of the guys from the team like Wout Poels, Gianluca Brambilla, and Pieter Serry already have experience in major tours next to Uran."
Uran won the stage 12 time trial at the Giro which gave him the overall lead in the race and saw him become the first Colombian to pull on the maglia rosa. The 27-year-old has ridden the Giro-Vuelta double in the last two seasons but is yet to record a good result at the Spanish race with 27th and 29th his last two placing respectively at the race.
"The squad will be completed by Tom Boonen and Tony Martin," Aldag added. Tom's leadership will be an important figure in the flat stages and in bunch sprint arrivals in which we want to stand out with his dashes. La Vuelta will also be important for him as he prepares for the Worlds.
Tony Martin also has his sights set on the worlds with a fourth consecutive time trial rainbow jersey but also has ambitions for he wishes to fulfill in Spain.
"Tony will make La Vuelta an important part of his World Championship build up," Aldag said. "He will target the opening team time trial and the long individual time trial to test his shape. In the other stages he will serve as support in the overall team strategy. In general the team is well balanced, with riders who will be able to support Uran in every racing situation.
"Backing them up, the squad will be able to count on Carlos Verona, akin his debut in his first big tour, and also Martin Velits and Nikolas Maes. These three riders are all guarantees in terms of team support and rapport."
Having crashed out of the Tour de France on the opening stage, Mark Cavendish only made his return to racing at the Tour de l'Ain and hasn't recovered from the injuries he sustained.
"Mark has proven that he’s worked very hard since his crash at the Tour de France," said Aldag. "Just six weeks after his injury, he took part in the Tour de l'Ain and worked as an important supporting rider to his teammates, even though obviously he is understandably not yet back to 100% condition.
It will mean that for the fist time since 2007, Cavendish will have only started one of the three grand tours
"After the injury both myself and the Team set a goal to get slowly back into a race environment at the Tour de l'Ain which I've now done." Cavendish said, "It was not an easy race for me because naturally my shoulder was still bothering me a little as it continues to get stronger each day."
Instead of the Vuelta, Cavendish will race the Tour du Poitou Charentes and Tour of Britian as he explained on his team's website.
"We will continue to monitor my condition week by week; as things stand it’s impossible to know how I'll be feeling each week considering the severity of the injury and the accelerated recovery time."
Omega Pharma-Quick Step for the Vuelta a España: Tom Boonen, Gianluca Brambilla, Nikolas Maes, Tony Martin, Wout Poels, Pieter Serry, Rigoberto Uran, Martin Velits and Carlos Verona.