Nibali to lead Astana in Vuelta
Bradley Wiggins is set to ride the Tour of Britain rather than the Vuelta a España as he prepares for his principal end-of-season target of a gold medal in the World Time Trial Championship. According to a report in Marca, the 2012 Tour de France champion has committed to his national tour, which begins on 15 September, the same day that the Vuelta finishes in Madrid.
Wiggins last rode the Vuelta in 2011, finishing third behind Juan José Cobo and Sky teammate Chris Froome. Sky have acknowledged they did consider the Vuelta as an option for Wiggins as he builds towards the Worlds, but may have been deterred by the extremely mountainous nature of the route, which features only one individual time trial of 38 kilometres.
Wiggins has not raced since abandoning the Giro d’Italia with a knee injury in mid-May. He is slated to return to competition on July 27 at the Tour of Poland.
Meanwhile, 2010 Vuelta and 2013 Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali will return to Spain’s national tour with a very strong Astana line-up. Team director Giuseppe Martinelli has confirmed to Spanish news agency EFE that Nibali will be backed by Italians Paolo Tiralongo, Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli, and Kazakhstani Andrey Zeits. Slovene Jani Brajkovic will also start assuming a full recovery from the knee injury that forced him to quit the Tour de France during its first week. Martinelli is also considering taking Jakob Fuglsang to the Vuelta, although the Dane’s participation will depend on how well he comes out of the Tour, where he currently lies seventh on GC.