Spanish federation announces men's Worlds long list

The Spanish cycling federation has announced its elite men's long list for the 2018 UCI Road World Championships, which take place in Innsbruck, Austria, later this month.

As one might expect, the 13-rider list for the road race is packed with Movistar riders, with four riders from the Spanish trade team in the mix for the eight places that Spain has available for the event on September 30.

All but guaranteed a start in the road race is 38-year-old Alejandro Valverde, who was still sitting second overall at the Vuelta a España ahead of stage 17 on Wednesday.

A rainbow jersey continues to elude Valverde, who has stepped onto the podium at the Worlds road race six times. He's finished second twice – in 2003 and 2005 – and third four times: in 2006, and three times in a row between 2012 and 2014.

His powers may have slightly waned since then, but his consistency at the Vuelta, with two stage wins already this year, indicate that he's still hungry, and Valverde will likely start in Innsbruck as one of the favourites.

Movistar teammate Mikel Landa will be hoping to return from serious injury to make the team.

After finishing seventh overall at the Tour de France in July, Landa crashed out of the Clasica San Sebastian the following week, fracturing a vertebra and a rib, which ruled him out of starting the Vuelta.

He's not raced again, but is back in training for a difficult Worlds course that would suit his abilities.

Cofidis' Jesús Herrada has staked a claim for a place with his recent two-day spell in the leader's red jersey at the Vuelta.

Herrada took the jersey from Mitchelton-Scott's Simon Yates after being part of the break that stayed away on stage 12. Although he lost time to the big names the next day, Herrada still held a 1:42 lead over Yates going into stage 14.

However, Yates' aggressive riding on the road to Les Praeres gave the Briton the stage win and the red jersey, which he's held ever since, with Herrada losing more than nine minutes.

Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), meanwhile, has crept – or, rather, leapt – up the overall rankings at the Vuelta in recent days, and is likely to finish the race strongly this week, and so the 23-year-old must be in with a shout of making the final eight.

Spain last won the Worlds road race in Verona in 2004 through Oscar Freire, having also won the previous year with Igor Astarloa.

It was Freire's third road-race title, having also won in 1999 and 2001. He retired after the 2012 season, and was in attendance at the Vuelta this week to call for tougher Spanish road-safety laws.

Abraham Olano was the last Spanish winner of the Worlds time trial back in 1998.

This year, Spain has two places for the race against the clock, and four riders are on the long list, including three from Movistar.

Jorge Arcas and Imanol Erviti are two of the Movistar riders not long-listed for the road race, but their teammate Marc Soler must be in with a strong chance of riding both events, as does the fourth named rider, Sky's Jonathan Castroviejo, who finished third in the time trial in 2016.

Spanish men's cycling team long list for the 2018 UCI Road World Championships:

Elite road race (eight to ride)
Pello Bilbao (Astana)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Team Sky)
David de la Cruz (Team Sky)
Rubén Fernández (Movistar)
Omar Fraile (Astana)
Jesús Herrada (Cofidis)
Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida)
Mikel Landa (Movistar)
Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors)
Lluis Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)
Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott)
Marc Soler (Movistar)
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Elite time trial (two to ride)
Jorge Arcas (Movistar)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Team Sky)
Imanol Erviti (Movistar)
Marc Soler (Movistar)

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