Team NetApp-Endura is preparing for its first Vuelta a Espana with the help of former pro Inigo Cuesta, who has ridden the race 17 times, more than any other rider. He is helping the climbers from the German Professional Continental team recon the mountain stages.
Cuesta, who is also a technical director for the Vuelta, is covering such climbs as the Alto Nuranco, Pene Cabarga and the Alto de l'Anglriu in Asturien and the Coll de la Gallina and the Col de Peyresourde in the Pyrenees, with NetApp-Endura climbers Leo König, Jose Mendes, Iker Camaño and David de la Cruz.
"It’s a spectacular course that will deliver an interesting race, and the outcome will remain open until the final days,” Cuesta said. “The favorites for the general classification won't have a moment of rest. But I expect an open race, in which not only the favourites but also other riders will show something.”
This year's Vuelta features 13 mountaintop finishes, with the Angliru and its gradient up to 20% providing the finish on the penultimate stage.
"I think the stage in Andorra and the next day in the Pyrenees will deliver the decision in terms of the general classification,” team sport director Alex Sans Vega said. “But if the time margins among the upper rankings are a bit wider, we’ll see a very exciting race in Asturias. Our riders will have lots of opportunities to show their strengths in the mountains.”
One of those riders is Leo König, who won the Queen stage at this year's Tour of California and is eager to tackle the Vuelta as his first Grand Tour.
"I will be gathering experience at the Vuelta,“ König told Cyclingnews. "So I will see how it goes from stage to stage. The race has a lot of very hard days, but also a lot of possibilities."
The team will announce its line-up for the Vuelta this coming Monday.