Boasting a provisional start list which rivals or possibly even exceeds the level of that shown in the recent Tour de France, the upcoming Vuelta a España looks set to be a massive battle between some of the top names in the sport.
The 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky), the runner up in that race Nairo Quintana (Movistar), past world number one Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 2013 Vuelta champion Chris Horner (Lampre), 2011 Tour victor Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and this year’s Tour podium finisher Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) are all slated to take part.
So too former race winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 2013 double stage victor Warren Barguill (Giant Shimano), Critérium du Dauphiné champion Andrew Talansky (Garmin Sharp), former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), plus climbing specialists Mikel Nieve (Sky), Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Fabio Aru (Astana), Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Haimar Zubeldia (Trek Factory Racing), Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) and Robert Gesink (Belkin Pro Cycling Team).
The Vuelta a España should also see some very big sprint battles, with many of the world’s fastest riders expected to ride. According to the provisional start list, Mark Cavendish will have recovered sufficiently from his Tour de France crash to compete, and will be joined by Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mate Tom Boonen, Tour green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Giro points winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) and the rapid Australian Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge).
Two of the world’s top time trialists are also pencilled in to start, with both Tony Martin (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (TREK Factory Racing) set to use the race as both a goal in itself and also preparation for the world road race championships.
The 2014 Vuelta a España begins with a team time trial on August 23 in Jerez de la Frontera and runs until September 14. It features eight mountain stages and two individual time trials.