RadioShack-Nissan is the latest ProTour team to reveal its squad for the 2012 Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Pamplona on Saturday. The team hopes to challenge for high positions in the overall general classification as well as stage victories in the mountains and in the sprints.
The team has endured a difficult 2012, with injuries, doping scandals and financial problems generating lots of negative press and having an adverse effect on its results. Winning the team classification at the Tour de France was a recent high point, and sporting director Jose Azevedo hopes that the squad his is taking to Spain is well equipped to do well over the next three weeks, right up to the finish in Madrid on September 9.
"We bring a diverse team to the start," Azevado said. "(Maxime) Monfort, (Linus) Gerdemann and (Tiago) Machado are our three GC riders and we will try to bring them in the best possible position to defend their overall ambitions. Maxime is very motivated for the Vuelta and with his sixth place overall in 2011, he proved to be a strong Grand Tour racer.
"He took a large break after the Tour [de France], in order to be fresh both physically and mentally. With 11 altitude finishes, the route will suit Tiago Machado very well too. The Vuelta has been his goal for the whole season and he is confident.
"Our three GC riders will be surrounded by a nice group of helpers. Those five riders will at times be allowed to defend their chances as well and fight for stage wins. Especially Jan Bakelants is an expert at that. He has been very close to victory in every Grand Tour he has ridden.
"In theory, six out of the 21 stages can conclude in a bunch sprint. Our Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati has already won five stages in the Tour of Spain in the past. We hope to see him knit on a sixth one somewhere between Pamplona and Madrid."
RadioShack-Nissan squad for the 2012 Vuelta a España: Daniele Bennati, Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Linus Gerdemann, Markel Irizar, Tiago Machado, Maxime Monfort, Greg Rast and Hayden Roulston.