Worlds berth on the line for Scarponi at the Vuelta

Michele Scarponi leads Lampre-Merida into his second grand tour of the 2013 season at the Vuelta a España, which gets underway on Saturday in Vilanova de Arousa with a team time trial.

Scarponi finished fourth overall earlier this year at the Giro d'Italia, less than a minute off the final podium place of Cadel Evans (BMC).

"It's not so simple to take part, with good results, in two three-week stages races, but I've trained in a proper way and I'd really like to be competitive," the Italian explained. "It would be interesting to evaluate if I'll be able to fight in the overall classification, then I'll aim to be a protagonist in the mountain stages: it would be great to win one stage.

"In addition, I hope to be in good enough shape to show that I could be a valid member of the national team that will race at the Worlds in Florence, since the course could be suited to my characteristics," he continued.

Winner Anacona and Simone Stortoni will support Scarponi in the climb-heavy grand tour.

Diego Ulissi, a recent winner on the summit finish on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland from Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) and Rafal Majka (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), is hoping to claim his second grand tour stage victory after he won a stage of the Giro back in 2011.

"My target is a stage victory and I know I can fight to reach this goal," the 24-year-old explained. "Stage by stage my fitness should improve, so that I'll be ready to perform very well at the world championships if I'm a member of the [Italian] national team."

With Alessandro Petacchi now racing for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, Maximiliano Richeze and Massimo Graziato will take the lead in the few sprint stages. Richeze has scored 10 podium placings so far this season.

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