Majka to lead Bora-Hansgrohe at Vuelta a Espana as Konig's woes continue
2015 podium finisher hoping for top-five GC result
Rafal Majka will lead the line for Bora-Hansgrohe at the upcoming Vuelta a España, though there is no place in the German team's nine-man line-up for the injury-embattled Leopold Konig. As previously announced, world champion Peter Sagan will not participate in the Vuelta.
The third and final Grand Tour of the season is, for many, a land of second chances, and Majka will aim for a top-five finish after crashing out of the Tour de France last month, his original primary target of the season.
The Pole, who finished third in the 2015 edition of the Vuelta, abandoned the Tour after a heavy crash on stage 9. There were no long-term injuries, however, and he returned to racing at the Tour de Pologne at the end of July, where he underlined his form with second place overall.
Also selected is rising German star Emmanuel Buchmann, who finished 15th at the Tour and will ride two Grand Tours in the same season for the first time in his young career. Patrick Konrad and Pawel Poljanski add support in the mountains, while Michael Schwarzmann will get in among the sprint finishes.
"I think we have a well-balanced squad to support Rafal but also to go for stage wins," said team manager Ralph Denk. "Rafal will be our GC leader with the goal to finish in the top five. But we also want to win a stage, and I think there will be chances for Buchmann and Konrad in some stages."
For Leopold Konig, however, the 2017 season now looks like a total write-off. The Czech rider, three times a Grand Tour top-ten finisher, joined Bora from Team Sky at the start of the season but has been plagued by a knee injury throughout, with just five race days and two finishes to his name so far.
After missing out on the Giro and then the Tour, he set his sights on the Vuelta but failed to finish the Clásica San Sebastián last weekend and has now been ruled out of this week's Czech Cycling Tour, his home race.
"After his long-lasting knee irritation, Leo feels better now. He had his first race in San Sebastian, but we think he is not ready yet for a three-week tour, the intensity for his knee could be too high. To not take any risk for his long-term perspectives he won't race the Vuelta," explained team doctor Jan-Niklas Droste.
As expected, world champion Peter Sagan will not ride the Vuelta after being expelled from the Tour in the first week. The Slovak will instead continue his build-up to the Bergen Worlds at the Canadian WorldTour one-day races at the start of September.
The 2017 Vuelta a España gets underway in Nimes, France, on August 19, and concludes in Madrid on September 10. Majka will face stiff competition from a quality field that includes Chris Froome, Romain Bardet, Alberto Contador, Fabio Aru, Vincenzo Nibali, Adam Yates and Esteban Chaves.
Bora-Hansgrohe for the Vuelta a España: Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Emanuel Buchmann (Ger), Michael Kolar (Svk), Patrick Konrad (Aut), Rafal Majka (Pol), Christoph Pfingsten (Ger), Pawel Poljanski (Pol), Andreas Schillinger (Ger), Michael Schwarzmann (Ger).
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