Fabio Aru and Dan Martin will headline the UAE Team Emirates line-up at the forthcoming Vuelta a España. Aru will aim for the overall classification while Martin provides back-up and hunts for stage victories.
The team will also have the Norwegian pairing of Vegard Stake Laengen and Sven Erik Bystrøm for the flats. Simone Consonni, Simone Petilli and Edward Ravasi will all make their Vuelta a España debut, with Valerio Conti completing the line-up.
For Aru, the Vuelta a España provides a chance for redemption after a difficult 2018 campaign. The Giro d'Italia had been the Italian's primary focus for the season. His build-up had been fairly low-key, but with sixth at the Tour of the Alps, it looked like he was moving in the right direction. However, from the start, Aru was off the pace at the Giro and he would eventually abandon on stage 19 due to illness.
After two months off the bike, Aru returned at the Tour de Wallonie and would finish 10th overall. He repeated the achievement at the Tour de Pologne earlier this month and says that he's looking forward to racing at the Vuelta, which starts this weekend.
"I really like the Vuelta for many reasons: the route, the climbs and especially the fans who have always shown great affection towards me," Aru said. "I approach it with great enthusiasm and a desire to do well, also to repay the affection and support shown to me by the team, the sponsors and the fans since the Giro d'Italia.
"I arrive from a first part of the season in which I did not get the results I was looking for, but from the defeats you can learn important lessons and all this gives me great motivation. It will be a tactically open Vuelta; the nine summit finishes will lend themselves to attacks. And I must beware of the short stages, they will have a big impact on the general classification. The competition is spread wide and level, thinking of Lopez, the Yates brothers, Urán and the captains of Movistar. Without forgetting that Nibali is making his race return.“
Martin's season has been markedly different to Aru's and he comes into the Vuelta with much less pressure on his shoulders. Martin also had a difficult start to the year but things began to fall into place for him at the Tour de France. He won stage 6 on the Mur de Bretagne and went on to finish eighth overall, despite crashing hard on stage 8. Martin's aggressive approach to the race also earned him the overall comabativity award, though he didn't take it on an individual stage.
"We will have the chance to aim for outstanding results with high-calibre and experienced riders and, at the same time, to help some make a step ahead in their careers," said directeur sportif Joxean Matxin in a team press release.
"Aru will be our man for the general classification, and in addition, we will be able to count on Daniel Martin, back from an excellent Tour de France and looking for more good results in some stage finishes particularly suited to him.
"Consonni will have the opportunity to show his talent in the sprints. And Petilli and Ravasi will have the responsibility of supporting Aru and Martin the best they can on the climbs, in addition to Conti. I also think the contribution of the Norwegian duo Laengen and Bystrøm will offer a well-rounded, robust team. Among other things, Bystrøm won the 2014 world championships as an under-23 in Spain."
UAE Team Emirates for the Vuelta a España: Fabio Aru, Dan Martin, Vegard Stake Laengen, Sven Erik Bystrøm, Valerio Conti, Simone Consonni, Simone Petilli and Edward Ravasi.
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