Wilco Kelderman will lead Sunweb’s general classification challenge at the Vuelta a España in the absence of the injured Tom Dumoulin, who has not raced since abandoning the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.
Dumoulin was forced out of the Giro d’Italia after injuring his knee in a crash on stage 4 to Frascati and the effects of that injury prevented him from participating in the Tour de France. The Dutchman has since been linked with a move away from Sunweb to Jumbo-Visma, and it is unclear if he will race again this season.
Kelderman placed fourth overall at the 2017 Vuelta and reached Madrid in tenth a year ago, but he has endured injury woe of his own this season. The 28-year-old missed the Giro after breaking his collarbone and neck vertebrae in March, and he abandoned the Tour de France with lower back problems.
Nicolas Roche and Australian duo Robert Power and Michael Storer will ride in support of Kelderman at the Vuelta, together with Martijn Tusveld. Max Walscheid will offer Sunweb an outlet in the sprints, while Nikias Arndt and Casper Pedersen complete the line-up.
"Our main goal will be to target a good GC result with Wilco," Sunweb directeur sportif Luke Roberts said in a statement released by the team. "We bring strong support with Nicholas, Australians Robert and Michael, and also all-round talent Martijn, who we are really happy to see on our line-up after a really difficult period recovering from his Paris-Nice crash. Max will be taking aim at stage success in the flat sprints, backed up by Grand Tour debutant Casper and our road captain Nikias."
The 2019 Vuelta begins with an 18km team time trial in Torrevieja on August 24 and crosses into France in the second week for a 36km individual time trial to Pau. As per recent tradition, there is a plethora of summit finishes.
“With two time trials and eight hilltop finishes, including the brutal Alto de Los Machucos and Alto de La Cubilla to sort the GC, there looks to be five or six opportunities for sprinters and the rest of the stages will likely go to breakaways or a decimated bunch,” said Roberts.
Team Sunweb for Vuelta a España (August 24-September 15): Nikias Arndt (Ger), Wilco Kelderman (Ned), Casper Pedersen (Den), Robert Power (Aus), Nicolas Roche (Irl), Michael Storer (Aus), Martijn Tusveld (Ned), Max Walscheid (Ger)