The organisers of the Vuelta a España have released the names of riders registered to contest the third and final Grand Tour of 2014, with some of the sports biggest names set to fight for success in late August and September.
Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Jouquim Rodgriruez (Katusha) - last year's podium finishers from the Tour de France- are just three of the several big names that will line up for the Spanish race which starts on August 23 with a team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera. The Vuelta ends in Santiago de Compostela on September 14.
Froome, who crashed out of the Tour on stage five fracturing his wrist and hand, returns to the race which launched his career as a Grand Tour contendor in 2011 when he finished second overall. Mikel Nieve is also listed in the Team Sky line-up. Team Sky general manager Sir Dave Brailsford hinted that Froome would contest the Vuelta and he has apparently been training in California since his crash.
Quintana makes his second appearance at the Vuelta having made his Grand Tour debut at the race in 2012 finishing 36th overall. The 24 year-old Giro d'Italia winner will lead the Movistar team alongside Alejandro Valverde who was fourth at this year's Tour de France.
Defending champion Chris Horner has been named by his Lampre-Merida team and the 42-year-old is feeling confident after finishing the Tour de France. He is tuning up for the Vuelta at the Tour of Utah. Fresh from placing second overall at the Tour, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is also likely to contest for a podium placing as will fellow Frenchman Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) who won two stages at last year's Vuelta.
In the absence of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru will lead the Astana team at the Vuelta.
Mark Cavendish, another causality from the Tour, could make a return to the Vuelta for the first time since 2010 when he won three stages and the points classification. The British sprinter has yet to return to racing since his high-speed crash on stage one of the Tour de France but said that his shoulder is recovering well after surgery. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep has yet to confirm that Cavendish will ride the Vuelta and could have alternative plans, including the Tour of Britain, if he is not fit enough to tackle a three-week Grand Tour.
Nacer Bouhanni is far more certain to ride the Vuelta. It will his last Grand Tour with FDJ before moving to Cofidis next season.
Garmin-Sharp lost Dan Martin due to a crash on the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia and then Andrew Talansky early in the Tour de France but both riders have been listed by the Vuelta organisers.
Cadel Evans is in his final year of his BMC contract and told reporters at the Tour of Utah that his result at the Vuelta may impact on his decision regarding 2015. While not named by the Vuelta, BMC's mid-season recruit Rohan Dennis is expected to make his debut with BMC at the Spanish Grand Tour.
One notable absentee from the preliminary list is 2008 and 2012 Vuelta champion, Alberto Contador, who also also crashed out of the Tour. The Spaniard fractured his fibia in a high speed crash and is almost certain to miss the race because of the time needed to heal and work on his fitness.
Initial riders named for the 2014 Vuelta a España
- Chris Froome, Mikel Nieve (Team Sky)
- Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
- Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha)
- Chris Horner (Lampre)
- Cadel Evans, Samuel Sánchez, Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
- Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
- Mark Cavendish, Rigoberto Urán, Tom Boonem, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma QuickStep)
- Thibaut Pinot, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ)
- Warren Barguill (Giant Shimano)
- Fabio Aru (Astana)
- Dan Martin, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp)
- Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
- Fabian Cancellara, Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing)
- Laurens Ten Dam, Robert Gesink (Belkin Pro Cycling Team)