Chris Froome is set to lead Team Sky at the Vuelta a Espana which starts next Saturday, August 18, in Pamplona.
The 27 year-old Olympic time-trial bronze medalist will head the nine-man team which features two other Brits: Ian Stannard and Ben Swift.
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Despite finishing second in last year’s edition of the race and again at last month’s Tour de France, the 2012 Vuelta will be the first time that the Kenyan-born rider has been given the leadership role at a Grand Tour.
On those two occasions Froome managed his own ambitions while riding in support of Sky’s leader Bradley Wiggins.
Nevertheless that didn’t stop him from displaying his considerable climbing talent; he took the final mountain-top finish to Pena Cabarga at last year’s Vuelta and memorably rode away from Wiggins on two occasions at the 2012 Tour.
And, in a Vuelta route that is again peppered with challenging climbs and summit finishes, his selection sets up a mouth-watering rivalry with the recently returned Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank).
Helping Froome will be Tour de France team-mate Richie Porte and American Danny Pate, who narrowly missed out on selection for the Tour in June.
Ben Swift will have his eyes on the sprint stages while British Champion Ian Stannard will reprise his role as domestique and lead-out man.
Sky’s Colombian duo of Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao will also be ones to watch. Both showed their talents with top tens at the Giro d’Italia in May and have indicated they are returning to form at just the right time.
Uran recently took silver behind Alexander Vinokourov at the Olympic Games road race while Henao came third overall at the Tour of Poland and second at the Vuelta a Burgos, the traditional appetiser to the Vuelta.
Team Sky squad for 2012 Vuelta a Espana
Chris Froome (GBr)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)
Sergio Henao (Col)
Danny Pate (USA)
Richie Porte (Aus)
Ian Stannard (GBr)
Ben Swift (GBr)
Rigoberto Urán (Col)
Xabier Zandio (Spa)
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Vinokourov wins Olympic road race gold as Cavendish misses out
Froome wins Vuelta stage 17 but can’t unseat Cobo from race lead