Le Mével aiming for strong Vuelta, will co-lead Garmin-Cervelo with Martin
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Le Mével aiming for strong Vuelta, will co-lead Garmin-Cervelo with Martin

by Shane Stokes at 12:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Haussler in, Hushovd out

Christophe Le MevelWith exactly one week to go before the start of the Vuelta a España, the riders of the Garmin-Cervélo team are preparing for the third Grand Tour of the year and what it hopes will be another successful display. The team had a strong Giro, with David Millar winning a stage and wearing the Maglia Rosa for two days. The Tour de France was even better, with the team clocking up four stage wins plus the team classification, Thor Hushovd wearing the Maillot Jaune for a week and Tom Danielson placing ninth overall.

The team will hope to keep that momentum going into the Vuelta a España. The leaders for the race will be Dan Martin, winner of the Giro della Toscana in May and runner-up plus a stage winner last week in the Tour of Poland, plus the Frenchman Christophe Le Mével. Like Martin, he missed the Tour and has focussed instead on being ready for the Vuelta. Like Martin, he is also trying to ensure that he is in peak condition.

“I rode the Tour of Poland with Dan but I wasn’t in my best shape yet”, he stated. “I had a real break of ten days after the French championship. The Tour of Italy had been so hard that I needed to rest but I’m going better and better. I’d like to get the right timing and finish the Vuelta as strongly as I started the Giro.”

Should he perform strongly and take a stage, wear the leader’s jersey or finish in the top ten overall, it would make up for one disappointment from the Giro. “I’ve been close to getting the pink jersey on a few occasions,” he said. “I’m not disappointed that I didn’t reach that goal because I’ve tried everything I could and my fighting spirit has been appreciated by the people behind the Garmin-Cervélo team.”

Like Martin, he has the benefit of having riden the race before. “I enjoyed the Vuelta at the end last year,” he stated, thinking back to his fourteenth place overall. “It makes me optimistic for this year as well. On paper, the second week looks very hard. Climbs like the Anglirù will be a discovery for me.”

The team’s sprinting hope will be Heinrich Haussler, who moved to the squad from the Cervélo Test Team last year and has been trying to rebuild his form after missing most of 2010 due to injury. He is a quick rider who is also good on varied terrain and from the breakaway, as he showed when soloing to a stage win in the 2009 Tour de France.

One who hasn’t made it into the squad is world champion Thor Hushovd. A double stage winner in this year’s Tour, he made it clear that he wanted to do the Vuelta in preparation for the world championships. However he has not been selected. “When you have a team as deep and talented as ours, roster decisions are very difficult”, said general manager Jonathan Vaughters.

Some have claimed that the rider’s non-selection is related to Hushovd’s signing for the BMC Racing Team. Vaughters says this is not a key reason, but it is likely that it played a part, particularly as the points scored by riders this season accompany them if they move elsewhere.


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