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Thomas Lofkvist (Sky)
Emphasis on stage victories in Spain
Team Sky has named a line-up for the Vuelta a España that shows a notable shift in emphasis from their maiden Tour de France in July. While Thomas Löfkvist will lead Sky's assault on the overall classification, team principal Dave Brailsford admitted that his squad will be "heading to the Vuelta with a stage-win mentality."
"We want to be attacking," Brailsford said. "It's a good opportunity for all the guys - we'll choose our days and the stages to take the race on."
Sky's debut Tour was built around delivering a podium finish for Bradley Wiggins, but the Englishman ultimately struggled for form. Accordingly, their Vuelta objectives are a little more balanced. In particular, Brailsford is looking to Simon Gerrans and home rider Juan Antonio Flecha to deliver a stage victory for the English team. Gerrans claimed a Vuelta stage win last year and lists victories in all three major tours on his palmares, while the canny Flecha won the Omloop Het Nieuwsbland this season.
"It's a home tour for Flecha and he'll obviously be looking to shine," Brailsford said. "Simon Gerrans is a key stage winner, that's his forte and how he made his name. Unfortunately he had to drop out of the Tour because of injury so he wants to get out there in Spain and try and search out some stage wins."
The British trio of Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift are also included in the roster, as are Finland's Kjell Carlström, Norway's Lars-Peter Nordhaug and South African John-Lee Augustyn.
Simon Gerrans returns to action at the Tour du Limousin and is looking forward to making up for his personal Tour disappointment at the Vuelta. "It's a big, big race and it's given me a real focus for the last part of the year," he said. "We've got a strong team to go for stage wins and get in the crucial breaks. Pretty much everyone on the team is capable of doing that if and when the opportunity arises."
The Sky team in full is: Thomas Löfkvist, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, John-Lee Augustyn, Lars-Peter Nordhaug, Kjell Carlström, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift.