The Rabobank team has announced a strong line-up for the Vuelta a España, including sprinters Oscar Freire and Matti Breschel, all-rounder Luis León Sánchez and climbers Steven Kruiswijk and Bauke Mollema in their team.
Carlos Barredo, Juan Manuel Garate, Paul Martens and Tom-Jelte Slagter complete the Dutch team’s line-up, which is packed with potential stage-winners for the final grand tour of the season, starting in Benidorm on August 20.
Breschel and Freire -winner of seven Vuelta stages in seven previous appearances, will be using the Vuelta as a springboard for the World Championships in Copenhagen. Breschel finished second behind Thor Hushovd in last year’s world championships, while Freire is a three-time former world champion.
The team’s overall hopes will lie with Kruiswijk, who finished an impressive ninth place in the Giro d’Italia back in May and then went on to finish third in the Tour of Switzerland.
Euskaltel-Euskadi back Antón for the Vuelta
Euskaltel-Euskadi have also confirmed their nine starters for the Vuelta, with Iván Velasco the rider missing out from the Basque team’s initial selection of 10 riders.
Led by Igor Antón, the Euskaltel-Euskadi line-up also features Giro d’Italia stage winner Mikel Nieve, Egoi Martinez, Gorka Verdugo, Amets Txurruka, Juanjo Oroz, Iñaki Isasi, Pierre Cazaux and Jorge Azanza.
With the goal very much on helping Antón win overall, Euskaltel’s riders will spend Thursday morning training on their time trial bikes in preparation for the team time trial on the Vuelta’s opening day on Saturday September 20.
The Basque outfit has already shown at the Giro and Tour that this is an area where they struggle. Although they are likely to finish well down the order again in the Vuelta TTT, their losses shouldn’t be significant given the distance of just 13.5km.
The Movistar team’s preparations for the Vuelta saw four of their riders head to the Asturias region of Spain on Tuesday to ride two of the key ascents: the Farrapona and the Angliru. Pablo Lastras, Beñat Intxausti, Sergio Pardilla and David López were said to be impressed with the Farrapona, which is a new climb to the Vuelta.
According to a statement from the team: “the last 7km of the Farrapona are very demanding. It’s a fantastic climb and it will produce a great stage because there will be attacks before this on the Puerto de San Lorenzo, which is very tough, and there’s no chance to rest before tackling the Farrapona.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).