Vuelta a Espana: Aqua Blue Sport and Manzana Postobon secure wildcard invitations

Cofidis and Caja Rural also amongst 22 teams named for third Grand Tour of the season

The organisers of the Vuelta a España have named the wildcard teams invited to this year’s race alongside the 18 WorldTour teams, with Cofidis, Caja Rural, Aqua Blue Sport and Colombian team Manzana Postobon securing the four places in the third Grand Tour of the season.

The 2017 Vuelta, the 72nd edition of the Spanish Grand Tour, starts in Nimes, France on August 19 and ends in Madrid on September 10.

With the Vuelta a España starting in France, the Delko Marseille Provence KTM team had been hoping for a place but they missed out, with organisers preferring to reward the new Irish-registered Aqua Blue Sport squad and help Colombian cycling by inviting the Manzana Postobon team. It will be the first time an Irish team has ever ridden in one of cycling’s Grand Tours. Manzana Postobon rode the recent Volta a Catalunya and are set to ride a serious campaign of races in Europe during the 2017 season.

As per UCI WorldTour rules, the 18 WorldTour teams are also automatically invited to, and obliged to attend, the Vuelta a España.

The route of the Vuelta is again packed with short but testing mountain stages. The route visits Andorra but bypasses much of the Pyrenees, with the first part of the race heading south to the Sierra Nevada. The race then jumps north via an 800km transfer for a key 42km time trial from Navarra to Logroño on stage 16. The steep Angliru is the final mountain finish of the race on stage 20 before a celebratory circuit stage in the heart of Madrid crowns the winner.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is not expected to defend his 2016 victory, preferring to target the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. However, many of the big-name Tour de France contenders are likely to line up in Nimes, depending on their results, form and goals after the Grande Boucle.

Vuelta a Espana teams

WorldTour: AG2R La Mondiale (Fra), Astana (Kaz), Bahrain - Merida (Brn), BMC (USA), Bora – Hansgrohe (Ger), Cannondale Drapac (USA), FDJ (Fra), Lotto Soudal (Bel), Movistar (Esp), Orica - Scott (Aus), Quick-Step Floors (Bel), Dimension Data (Rsa), Katusha - Alpecin (Sui), LottoNL - Jumbo (Ned), Team Sky (Gbr), Team Sunweb (Ger), Trek – Segafredo (USA) and UAE Team Emirates (UAE).

Wildcards: Cofidis (Fra), Caja Rural (Spa), Aqua Blue Sport (Irl) and Manzana Postobon (Col).

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