Third overall in this year’s Giro d’Italia, Fabio Aru is aiming high once again in the Vuelta a España, where he will co-captain the Astana team with Paolo Tiralongo.

The 24 year old secured a podium finish in the Italian Grand Tour and also won stage fifteen to Plan di Montecampione; some riders in his position might be satisfied with that, but he makes clear that he remains hungry to achieve more in 2014.

“I don’t want to call it a season because I’ve done well at the Giro,” he said. “There are still great races to take part in and I’d like to repeat some of my performances.”

The Astana team is on a high after Vincenzo Nibali dominated the Tour de France. Andrea Guardini has kept the winning momentum going with two stage victories in the Tour of Denmark plus another sprint success on yesterday’s opening stage of the Eneco Tour, while Alexey Lutsenko took the time trial in Denmark.

Aru took a long break after the Giro but has knuckled down again in order to be ready for the Spanish Grand Tour.

“I just returned home from the Tour de Pologne, which was an important race in my lead up to the Vuelta,” he said. “The Vuelta is the goal of the second half of the season for me.

“I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it since it’ll give me the opportunity to race against so many champions even though I’ve never done two Grand Tours in a single season up to date.”

Aru is clear that he’s impressed by the strong lineup in the race, saying it will be ‘an honour’ to race against 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome and the others in the event.

Also taking part are last year’s Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar), past world number one Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 2011 Tour victor Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and this year’s Tour podium finisher Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

Others who could fight for the final victory include Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 2013 double stage victor Warren Barguill (Giant Shimano), Critérium du Dauphiné champion Andrew Talansky (Garmin Sharp), 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).

There is also an outside chance that Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) might yet be able to take part.

Aru has said he is hungry to chase more success. “What I’ve done at the Giro belongs to the past so I’ve resumed training seriously for my future,” he said. “I still have a lot to prove and a lot to learn but I’ll go to the Vuelta with the same state of mind I had at the beginning of the Giro: without any precise goal but the firm intention to give my best, as always.”