Chris Froome leading Team Sky to la Vuelta a España
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Chris Froome leading Team Sky to la Vuelta a España

by Ben Atkins at 5:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Kenyan-born British rider aiming for top step after two straight Grand Tour second places

chris froomeThe Sky Procycling Team has announced its line up for the upcoming Vuelta a España, where Chris Froome will be aiming to take the overall victory. The Kenyan-born Briton finished a very close second in last year’s edition, where he finished ahead of team leader Bradley Wiggins, but put his personal ambitions on hold at last month’s Tour de France. He also finished on the second step in Paris - behind Wiggins this time - but after two consecutive Grand Tour runner up spots, he is aiming to win this time.

“It’s always been my plan to ride the Vuelta,” said the 27-year-old, who took the bronze medal in the Olympic road time trial - also behind Wiggins. “I’ll be going into the race as team leader but that’s not to say we don’t have other guys who can be right up there on the GC. Rigoberto [Urán] and Sergio [Henao] both have huge potential, and Richie [Porte] is another guy who could shine.

Australian Porte was another rider who sacrificed his own ambitions towards the overall Wiggins victory in France, while Colombians Urán and Henao led Sky’s challenge at the Giro d’Italia, where they finished seventh and ninth overall respectively. Froome was the outstanding climber in the Tour however, and was urged by many to ride for himself, but chose to hold back and support superior time triallist Wiggins.

“I’m going to do the best job I can and do whatever’s required of me from the team,” said Froome. “Initially I’ll be riding for the GC, but if one of my team-mates shows that they’re in a better place to win the race then I’ll happily work for them. We’re sending a first-rate squad and it should be a really exciting race.”

Urán was also part of the large breakaway group that foiled Froome and the other Great Britain riders in the recent Olympic Games road race, taking the silver medal behind Kazakhstan’s Alexandre Vinokourov.

“This is a really strong team. Everyone is in form and we have a great chance of replicating our success of last year,” said the Colombian. “Froomey is looking in great form and I’ve also had a good preparation for this race, so I am excited to get started.

“The route is very mountainous and there are plenty of summit finishes which will suit mine and Froomey’s styles,” he added. “There should be plenty of chances to show what I can do and I’ll also be there to help the team as much as possible.”

Having ridden the Giro and Tour, as well as the Olympic race, World champion Mark Cavendish will be sitting the race out. His replacement in Team Sky’s sprint department will be taken by Ben Swift, who seeks to build on his two stage victories and points jersey at the recent Tour of Poland.

“We’ve got a strong and well-balanced team going to the Vuelta,” sad the 24-year-old. “There are a lot of guys there to support Froomey in the mountains and I’m expecting him to have a really good race. He’s been unbelievable this season and I’m sure he’ll be able to continue that form and challenge for the top step on the podium.

“I’m really excited about being the team’s main sprinter. There should be plenty of opportunities for me and I’ll be doing my best to get my first Grand Tour stage win.”

The rest of the team will be made up of US rider Danny Pate, British champion Ian Stannard, and Spaniards Juan Antonio Flecha and Xabier Zandio; riding his 17th career Grand Tour, wily Classics specialist Flecha will be the British team’s road captain.

British cycling has enjoyed unprecedented success this season, with Wiggins’ run of victories that peaked with Tour de France and Olympic glory, and the national team’s domination of the Olympic velodrome and, while Sky’s Vuelta line up is a very international one, it is aiming for yet more glory for British riders.

“We’ve got every base covered with this line up,” said the team’s French directeur sportif Nicolas Portal. “We have Olympic medallists, amazing climbers, some really strong guys on the flat, and a very fast sprinter.

“Every rider knows their role and they will need to be alert from the very first stage as the level of competition is so high,” he added. “With Froomey, we saw how he improved as the Tour de France went on and he will be very strong here again. This race is a major goal for him and we have the team to give him the best possible chance of success.”

Team Sky for the Vuelta a España
Juan Antonio Flecha, Chris Froome, Sergio Henao, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Rigoberto Urán and Xabier Zandio.

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