David de la Cruz says he’s ready to lead Team Sky into the third Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a España, calling the upcoming race an opportunity and not a pressure to fill the void left by Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
The Spaniard rode in support of Froome at his Giro d’Italia victory in May, but now says he’ll lead the overall challenge for Sky in a team that will contain the likes of Michal Kwiatkowski and Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart.
“It’s not a pressure, it’s an opportunity… pressure is something you put on yourself, but this is a challenge and I really look forward to starting the race,” he told Spanish national daily, Marca.
“I have prepared for the Vuelta with many ambitions,” said the Sky rider, who won stage eight of Paris-Nice earlier in the season before taking on the role of domestique for Froome in Italy.
Both Froome and Geraint Thomas will start the Tour of Britain on September 2 whilst De la Cruz will face the likes of Fabio Aru (UAE Emirates), Richie Porte (BMC) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) in Spain.
“There are riders who have to carry more pressure – but I trust my chances, in the work I’ve done, and that’s what counts.”
Staying cagey about his expectations, he added: “I do not know exactly where I will finish – but I have trained and sacrificed to do well in the general classification. I have many ambitions, and we will see how far we can go.”
Looking ahead to the Spanish race, the 29-year-old said he expected the second half of the race to be pivotal.
“The key will be in the last eight stages, as they are incredibly tough and I think the organisers have achieved a lot with the course,” he said.
The Vuelta a España kicks off on Saturday August 25, with an 8km time trial in Málaga.