This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Chris Froome will lead a strong Team Sky line-up at the Vuelta a España as he bids to go one place better than he did in 2011, when he finished a surprise second behind Juan José Cobo.
Froome has since gone on to buttress his credentials as a grand tour rider by finishing second at the Tour de France behind teammate Bradley Wiggins and will now have the opportunity to ride as the outright leader in Spain. The Vuelta gets underway in Pamplona on August 18.
Froome will not be lacking in support in the high mountains, and Sky announced on Thursday that he will be flanked by the talented Colombian pairing of Rigoberto Uràn and Sergio Henao, as well as Richie Porte, who was one of Wiggins’ key helpers at the Tour de France.
Strongmen Danny Pate and Ian Stannard are also included, along with home riders Juan Antonio Flecha and Xabier Zandio. Ben Swift will provide the team with a potent outlet in the sprints.
“It’s always been my plan to ride the Vuelta,” said Froome. “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 and Sergio both have huge potential, and Richie is another guy who could shine.”
Froome began last year’s Vuelta in support of Wiggins but their roles were reversed in the final week as it became apparent that the erstwhile lieutenant was the better option to chase overall victory. In the high mountains at this year’s Tour de France, Froome appeared to climb more strongly than Wiggins but sacrificed his ambitions in favour of his teammate, who won both long time trials.
“I’m going to do the best job I can and do whatever’s required of me from the team,” Froome said of the approaching Vuelta. “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.”
Fresh from winning silver in the road race at the London 2012 Olympics, Rigoberto Uràn is another Sky rider with the potential to make a big impact at the Vuelta. 7th overall and best young rider at the Giro d’Italia, the 25-year-old reckons the route is well-suited to his talents.
“The route is very mountainous and there are plenty of summit finishes which will suit mine and Froomey’s styles,” he said. “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.”
Sky team for the Vuelta a España, August 18-September 9: Chris Froome, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Rigoberto Urán and Xabier Zandio.