Chaves and Yates brothers headline Orica-Scott team at Vuelta a Espana
"At the end of the day the team is our leader," says DS Neil Stephens
Adam Yates, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves have all been named in a strong Orica-Scott line-up for the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Nimes on Saturday.
Froome, Nibali, Aru, Bardet, Contador headline Vuelta a Espana provisional start list
Tuft extends with Orica-Scott to become oldest rider in 2018 WorldTour
Vuelta a Espana Preview: Chris Froome and unfinished business
Hayman signs up for another shot at the Classics with Orica-Scott
Michael Hepburn re-signs with Orica-Scott
Vuelta a Espana: Vincenzo Nibali backed by youth and experience
Chaves placed third overall at last year's Vuelta, and will set out as co-leader alongside Adam Yates, while Simon Yates – best young rider at last month's Tour de France – will also have the freedom to go on the offensive in the mountains.
"We have the best general classification riders we can put together, we have all three of them here, and that is going to be a bit of a challenge," Orica-Scott directeur sportif Neil Stephens said. "It's an exciting challenge for us all to focus on, but at the end of the day the team is our leader and all three riders have always fully committed to that."
A year ago, Orica-Scott launched a two-pronged assault on the Vuelta, with Simon Yates winning a stage and placing sixth overall as his teammate Chaves climbed onto the podium. The team will now seek to combine the interests of three riders with genuine GC aspirations.
"We did it at the Vuelta last year with Simon and Esteban and in the final the race is sorted out on the road. Despite finishing with a top 10 himself, Simon was selfless in his support of our podium finish," Stephens said. "The aim is a team result in Madrid, who it is, it doesn't matter."
Chaves has endured a difficult 2017 campaign. The early part of his season was plagued by a knee injury and in July, his close friend and physiotherapist, Diana Casas, who helped him back from his horrific 2013 injury, was tragically killed in a road accident. Chaves placed 63rd overall in his debut Tour de France last month but struck an optimistic note in its final days. "If I'm on this level now, the only way I can go is better," the Colombian climber said.
Adam Yates lines out for the second Vuelta of his career after completing the event in his first season as a professional in 2014. The 25-year-old impressed on his Giro d'Italia debut in May, and would surely have placed higher than ninth overall in Milan had he not come down in the mass crash at the foot of the Blockhaus on stage 9.
Simon Yates was initially slated to ride the Giro alongside his brother but was held back for the Tour when it became apparent that Chaves would struggle to reach his best form in July. He proceeded to place seventh overall and emulate Adam Yates by carrying the white jersey of best young rider to Paris.
Chaves and the Yates brothers will be able to rely on the talents of Sam Bewley and Svein Tuft in the Vuelta's opening team time trial in Nimes, while Jack Haig – so impressive at the Tour de Pologne – and Carlos Verona will offer support when the road climbs.
The Orica-Scott line-up is completed by Chris Juul-Jensen and Magnus Cort, who won two stages at last year's Vuelta and will leave for Astana at the end of the current season.
This year's Vuelta features a particularly deep field, with Chris Froome (Team Sky) aiming to become only the third rider to win the Tour and the Vuelta in the same season. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) are among the contenders for final overall victory in Madrid.
"Looking at the quality of rivals, if we were able to repeat what we did last year and get on the podium in Madrid that would be a really fantastic result," said Stephens, who warned that the first part of the Vuelta is not bereft of difficulties.
"The race ramps up as it goes. In the first half of the Vuelta there's some surprisingly difficult stages that don't look that difficult on paper, but might catch people off guard. When we start getting towards the south of Spain there's some difficult stages and the general classification will start to really take shape. From there we go to the second time trial, which is going to be important, and we finish with a very difficult last week."
Orica-Scott for the Vuelta a España: Adam Yates (GBr), Simon Yates (GBr), Esteban Chaves (Col), Sam Bewley (NZl), Magnus Cort (Den), Jack Haig (Aus), Chris Juul-Jensen (Den), Svein Tuft (Can), Carlos Verona (Spa).
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!