Vacansoleil-DCM have opted for a team focused on stage wins at the upcoming Vuelta a España. Juan Antonia Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland come into the team as bone fide stage hunters and given their propensity for aggression it will be no surprise to see these two up the road chasing stage victories.
Barry Markus makes his grand tour debut for the team after missing his scheduled debut at the Giro due to injury. Earlier in the year the emerging sprinter finished the Tour of Qatar with three podium finishes and was second overall in the points classification. Having recently claimed two podium finishes at the Arctic Race of Norway the 22-year-old will be one to watch during the sprint stages.
Grega Bole won a reduced bunch sprint during stage 2 of the Tour de l'Ain last week and comes into the Vuelta as another on form rider. Wout Poels added to his teammate's success in France by winning the fourth stage and further serves to bolster the Vacansoleil line up.
Given the demanding parcours that riders will face, Vacansoleil is not expected to challenge for the overall victory. Lieuwe Westra is a consistent general classification (GC) rider over one week races such as the Volta ao Algarve where he finished on the podium in February. But at 74 kilograms, he is not suited to climbing-heavy three week grand tours.
Similarly, Thomas De Gendt is Vacansoleil's best GC option on paper given his third place finish at the Giro d'Italia last year. The 26-year-old did not perform well at the Tour de France and comes into the Vuelta as an unknown prospect. Having had no success since a stage victory at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya in March, De Gendt is also expected to chase stage victories.
Vacansoleil for the 2013 Vuelta a España: Barry Markus, Johnny Hoogerland, Wout Poels, Lieuwe Westra, Thomas De Gendt, Grega Bole, Juan Antonio Flecha, Tomasz Marczynski and Rafeal Valls.