Leopard Trek chasing high overall finish and stage wins at the Vuelta a España
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Leopard Trek chasing high overall finish and stage wins at the Vuelta a España

by VeloNation Press at 5:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Fuglsang and Monfort start as protected riders, Bennati and Cancellara to chase stages

Jakob FuglsangOne day before the start of the Vuelta a España, the Leopard Trek team has outlined its goals for the race and states that it is aiming for both a high overall classification and for stage wins along the journey between Benidorm and Madrid.

With the Schleck brothers opting to ride the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, two other riders are being put forward as the contenders for the race title.

“The general idea for the team in Spain is to have Jakob Fuglsang and Maxime Monfort share the leadership for the overall,” said directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen. “We have Daniele Bennati for any possible sprint finishes. With six mountaintop finishes and roughly ten stages where Bennati could have a card to play, we are confident that we will be a factor in the third and final Grand Tour.”

Those three riders will be joined by world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, Davide Viganò, Oliver Zaugg, Robert Wagner, Stuart O’Grady and Thomas Rohregger.

Unsurprisingly, the big Swiss rider will chase success in the individual race against the clock. He’ll also have a vital role to play in tomorrow’s team time trial in Benidorm.

“Cancellara will focus on the tenth stage individual time trial,” Michaelsen explained. “It is the only individual time trial of the race. The race kicks off with a tough team trial on Saturday, and Cancellara will play an important role in metering the team’s efforts. We can also use him in the sprints.

“We have brought Robert Wagner and Davide Viganò as the last two riders to lead out Bennati, but, depending on the situation, we have [Stuart] O’Grady and Cancellara to use as well.”

Michaelsen said that the opening four kilometres of tomorrow’s test are uphill and difficult, and that the team is aiming to keep Fuglsang and Monfort close to the other GC contenders. He said that the team wants a top five finish in the test, and then to ride strongly on Tuesday’s race to the top of Sierra Nevada. That will be the first indication if Fuglsang and Monfort have what it takes.

“This stage concludes with 30 kilometers of climbing,” he said. “The top climbers will have to show themselves early on in this race this year.”

If that goes well, the duo will continue to battle onward against the likes of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), race favourite Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Michele Scarponi (Lampre ISD), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Denis Menchov (Geox TMC) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling).

Fuglsang has long been tipped as a possible GC contender for big stage races. He finished 56th in the 2009 Vuelta, his Grand Tour debut, but since then has sacrificed his chances for the Schlecks in the past two Tours de France and finished 50th in each.

He’s 26 now, nearing his athletic prime, and over the next three weeks will have the chance to see what he can do on the big stage. Ditto for Monfort, who finished tenth this year in both Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse.

Leopard Trek for Vuelta a España: Daniele Bennati, Davide Viganò, Fabian Cancellara, Jakob Fuglsang, Maxime Monfort, Oliver Zaugg, Robert Wagner, Stuart O’Grady, Thomas Rohregger


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