Gilbert and Jakobsen headline Deceuninck-QuickStep at Vuelta a Espana

Fabio Jakobsen will lead Deceneuninck-QuickStep’s hunt for sprint victories at the 2019 Vuelta a España, while Philippe Gilbert makes his final Grand Tour appearance for the squad before switching to Lotto Soudal in 2020.

Like Gilbert, Zdeněk Štybar will use the Vuelta to build towards the World Championships in Yorkshire. Maxi Richeze, also riding his last Grand Tour for the team before moving to UAE Team Emirates, will serve as Jakobsen’s lead-out man in Spain, while the squad also includes Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq, James Knox and Eros Capecchi. There is no place in the team for the Movistar-bound Enric Mas, who placed second overall a year ago.

The Vuelta gets underway with a team time trial in Torrevieja on Saturday.

"We have a nice mix of young and experienced riders, and our goal will be to go for stage victories. Fabio is making his first Grand Tour appearance and with the help of Max we hope he’ll be there in the bunch sprints," said directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters when the team was announced.

Jakobsen turned professional last season and racked up seven wins in his debut campaign. He has five wins to his name this year, including the Dutch national title and a second successive victory at Scheldeprijs. This will be his first-ever Grand Tour appearance.

23-year-old James Knox makes his second Grand Tour start of the season. Injury forced him out of the Giro d’Italia on stage 12, but the Cumbrian has performed strongly since returning to action, placing third at the Adriatica Ionica Race and tenth overall at the Tour de Pologne.

"James will take it day by day and see what he can do in the mountains," Peeters said. "Another experienced rider is Eros, who can help in the mountains and guide our young guys. Last but not least, Gilbert and Štybar have what it takes to win a stage and will look for opportunities over the next three weeks."

On Monday, Lotto Soudal confirmed that Gilbert will join them from 2020 on a three-year contract. Winner of Paris-Roubaix this season, Gilbert was left out of the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad for the Tour de France. He will look to add to his tally of five stage wins on the Vuelta, the last of which came in the rainbow jersey of world champion in Tarragona in 2013.

As expected, Julian Alaphilippe will not participate in the Vuelta. The Frenchman is instead slated to begin his Worlds build-up at the Deutschland Tour, which gets underway on August 29. European champion Elia Viviani will ride the EuroEyes Cyclassics in Hamburg and the Bretagne Classic in Plouay a week later before starting a block of track racing to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympic Games. He will move to Cofidis in 2020.

Deceuninck-QuickStep for the Vuelta a España: Eros Capecchi (Ita), Rémi Cavagna (Fra), Tim Declercq (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Fabio Jakobsen (Ned), James Knox (GBr), Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) and Zdeněk Štybar (Cze).

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