Jean-Christophe Peraud will line up in a professional bike race for the final time at the Vuelta a Espana. The 2014 Tour de France runner-up will retire after racing with AG2R La Mondiale in Spain and his team is hoping he will go out on a high note after an unlucky season. He sustained head injuries in crash early in the Giro d'Italia and then missed out on the Tour selection.
"I want him to have fun during this Vuelta," directeur sportif Julien Jurdie said. "It is important for him because he will retire from professional cycling after the race. However, the general classification remains his main objective. The Vuelta route meets his top 10 overall ambition. He has the right physical and mental abilities to challenge the GC contenders."
Peraud will be joined by a team of veterans and two Grand Tour rookies: sprinter Gediminas Bagdonas and Belgian Jan Bakelants boost the team's stage win possibilities, while Pierre Latour will look for a high position on the young rider classification.
"He is just like Jean-Christophe's little brother," Jurdie said "As a rookie, he will ride his first Grand Tour ever. For sure, he will gain experience and try to reach the best overall position possible. It is difficult to have a specific plan on a three week race. However, he will fight for the young rider classification."
The team will field three Grand Tour newcomers: Francois Bidard, Latour and Quentin Jaurégui, while Domont races the Vuelta for the first time.
AG2R La Mondiale for the Vuelta a Espana: Gediminas Bagdonas, Jan Bakelants, François Bidard, Axel Domont, Quentin Jaurégui, Pierre Latour, Sébastien Minard, Jean-Christophe Péraud, Christophe Riblon
Mikel Landa replaced in Sky's Vuelta line-up
Team Sky announced today that it has removed Mikel Landa from the roster for the Vuelta a España, citing an injury to the Spaniard's hip. He will be replaced by compatriot David Lopez. Landa was to support Tour de France winner Chris Froome while racing his third Grand Tour of the season.
Team Sky Doctor Inigo Sarriegui said: "Mikel told us that he had been suffering with discomfort in his hip and upper leg. We sent him for a scan but have decided that the best thing at this stage is to take Mikel out of the Vuelta line up. Obviously he is disappointed, but starting a Grand Tour when you are already experiencing pain from an injury risks aggravating it further and could cause more problems. Mikel will be able to focus on recovering from the injury, rather than trying to get through a three week stage race."
Photo: TDW Sport
Brambilla, Meersman lead Etixx-Quickstep for Vuelta a Espana
Giro d'Italia stage winner Gianluca Brambilla will be the leader of the Etixx-Quickstep team for the Vuelta a España. The 28-year-old led the Giro d'Italia for two stages after his win in Arezzo. It's his third trip to the Vuelta, after being disqualified from the race for a dust up with Ivan Rovny in his first appearance, he finished 13th overall in 2015.
The on-form sprinter Gianni Meersman will battle for stage wins. He recently led the Vuelta a Burgos for two stages, but has not won a race this season. His last victory was in the Handzame Classic in March of last year.
"We have an aggressive squad, capable of shining on every type of terrain. It's a very hard Vuelta a España, but it's been like that for years, and we are aware of what lies ahead of us. Just like at the previous edition, we will go to the attack and try to get some nice results. We will have a different plan for every stage and hopefully we will get rewarded for our hard work and determination,"said sport director Rik van Slycke
Etixx-Quickstep for the Vuelta a Espana: Maxime Bouet, Gianluca Brambilla, David De La Cruz Melgarejo, Yves Lampaert, Gianni Meersman, Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra, Martin Velits