Froome, winner of the 2011 and 2017 editions of the race, makes his return to Grand Tour racing for the first time since his horrific crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. He was overlooked for Ineos’ Tour de France squad, but will lead a strong team in Spain over a reduced race of 18 stages instead of 21.
Among the line-up, Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz is the stand-out name, with the Ecuadorian performing well in the Tour de France in the hunt for stage wins and the king of the mountains competition after Egan Bernal’s GC bid faltered.
There’s plenty of Grand Tour credentials elsewhere in the squad, with Andrey Amador and Dylan van Baarle backing up the Tour with a ride in the Vuelta. Michał Golas and Cameron Wurf also have plenty of previous Grand Tour experience between them, while the remaining two places offer Vuelta debuts. Iván Sosa rides his second three-week race having completed the Giro in 2019 and his compatriot Brandon Rivera makes his Grand Tour debut.
This year’s Vuelta may be three stages shorter than normal due to the calendar reshuffle because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s still stacked with its usual level of brutal climbing stages. Finishes on the Col du Tourmalet and the Alto de l’Angliru are the two stand-out mountain stages amongst five summit finishes in total, while a 33.7km time trial on stage 13 should lend itself to Froome’s strengths.
The 35-year-old will need to recapture all of his old form though if he’s to win his third Vuelta title. So far he has struggled to look the rider he was prior to his injuries and will face his toughest test yet from a stacked start list. Primož Roglič and Tom Dumoulin lead a powerful Jumbo-Visma squad reminiscent of the Tour team that dominated for almost the entire three weeks, while Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) will hope to finally get it right over an entire Grand Tour after another disappointing ride at the Tour earlier this year.
Movistar take a typically strong squad to their home race, and will hope to finally secure a long-awaited victory in 2020 through Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas, and Marc Soler who headline the Spanish team.
Froome will also face a challenge from his former team-mate who was instrumental in his 2017 Vuelta win, Wout Poels, who leads the Bahrain-McLaren squad. Up-and-coming climbing star Aleksandr Vlasov will hope for a better start to the Vuelta than he did at the Giro d’Italia (where he abandoned on stage two) as he heads up the Astana roster.
Ineos will be hoping Froome or Carapaz can deliver a result for them at the Vuelta after disastrous GC campaigns at the Tour and the Giro. Bernal’s bid to win the Tour came to an end on stage 15 before he later abandoned, while Geraint Thomas’ hopes of winning the Giro were over before they began after a crash in the neutral zone on the first mountain finish on stage three.
The Vuelta a España 2020 kicks off on Tuesday October 20 with a 173km stage from Irún to Arrate, finishing on November 8 in Madrid.
Ineos Grenadiers squad for the 2020 Vuelta a España
Chris Froome (GBr)
Richard Carapaz (Ecu)
Andrey Amador (CRC)
Michał Golas (Pol)
Brandon Rivera (Col)
Iván Sosa (Col)
Dylan van Baarle (Ned)
Cameron Wurf (Aus)