BMC going into Vuelta a Espana without a clear GC leader

BMC Racing is heading into the Vuelta a España with a strong team but without a clear general classification leader.

The nine-man roster announced Monday includes Tejay van Garderen, Nicolas Roche and Samuel Sánchez, all of whom will start the race with a top GC result in mind, while Alessandro De Marchi, Damiano Caruso and Rohan Dennis will be on the hunt for stage wins. Kilian Frankiny will make his Grand Tour debut, while Daniel Oss and Francisco Ventoso will supply the power and protection for the GC riders.

"It's a tough course with lots of steep uphill finishes that lends many different opportunities for attacks and an explosive style of racing," van Garderen said in a statement released with the roster announcement.

"I'd like to try and climb as high as possible on the general classification and hopefully challenge for a stage victory," van Garderen said. "We also have a strong team to challenge for the team classification, which would be a huge honor to win."

The team's immediate goal will be to take out the 13.8-kilomere opening team time trial in Nimes, France, on August 19. BMC won the world championship in the event in 2015 and 2016, but lost the title to Etixx-QuickStep last year.

"To start with, the team time trial in Nimes is a big objective for us," said team director Yvon Ledanois. "Team time trials are always an important discipline for BMC Racing Team, but here at the Vuelta a España, a good result means starting the three-week race with good morale and motivation, and potentially the leader's jersey"

Dennis will be key to a good team time trial result, but the 27-year-old Australian says he is also ready to test himself as a GC rider in a three-week race.

"I am lining up at the Vuelta a España with a pretty loose general classification objective. My goals are going for some stage wins, and hopefully I will be able to test myself in the mountain stages against the general classification guys."

For Frankiny, the 23-year-old who was third in the Swiss championship road race and most recently competed in the Tour of Utah, starting a Grand Tour in his first year with the team is beyond his initial expectations.

"To race my first Grand Tour in my first pro year makes it very special for me, as I never thought I would do one in my first year and with such a strong team, it's an honor," Frankiny said. "It will be a big challenge, but I'm looking forward to it. My first goal is a good team time trial on the first day. The whole race I hope to learn a lot and gain more experience for the future. I hope to get a good result on one of the climbing stages and to help the team as much as possible before arriving with the whole team in Madrid."

Sánchez, 39, who has five stage wins in nine appearances in the race and has said he is contemplating retirement after this season, is hoping to put behind him the bad memories from last year's race, when he was forced to abandon after a crash in the stage 19 time trial while sitting 12th overall.

"This year's edition of La Vuelta a España has very demanding routes with many steep climbs and towns visited for the first time," said the 2008 Olympic champion. "We will have to live day by day as many stages will require superior mental and physical strength. We bring a quite balanced team to fight for stages and try to be on top. For me, this is a chance to forget last year's bad experiences and do a good result this year."

BMC Racing for the Vuelta a España: Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Rohan Dennis, Kilian Frankiny, Daniel Oss, Nicolas Roche, Samuel Sanchez, Tejay van Garderen, Francisco Ventoso.

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