Jakob Fuglsang is set to lead the line for Astana at the Vuelta a España, as the Kazakhstani team take a super strong squad of climbing talent to compete for the overall classification.
Alongside the Dane, Miguel Ángel López will line up following his top 10 GC ride at the Giro d’Italia. Both Izagirre brothers, Ion and Gorka, will provide domestique duties in the mountains, while Dario Cataldo, Manuele Boaro and two Spaniards, Luis León Sánchez and Omar Fraile complete the eight-man squad.
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Fuglsang had his GC ambitions at the Tour de France cut short by a crash on stage 16 in Nîmes, which saw him abandon the race and forfeit his top 10 GC place heading into the Alps.
25-year-old López won the young rider classification at the 2017 Vuelta as well as two stages, also taking the young rider classification at the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Giro d’Italia.
His 2017 Vuelta performance achieved him an eighth place finish, which he bettered the next year to finish third on the podium. However, he failed to defend his best young rider title as Spaniard Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) finished second behind Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Fuglsang has only ever won two stages at the Spanish Grand Tour, team time trials in 2011 and 2013, the latter being his most recent inclusion in the race. You have to go back to 2016 for the last time the Dane rode a Grand Tour that wasn’t the Tour de France.
The 34-year-old was one of the favourites heading into this year’s Tour, having won the Critérium du Dauphiné, and will be looking to resurrect what had been a successful season leading up to the French Grand Tour.
The Dane won his first ever Monument in the spring at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, also securing podium spots at Strade Bianche, Flèche Wallonne and the Amstel Gold Race, often being bested by 2019’s star rider, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
Astana’s strong line-up is currently only matched by the wealth of talent Jumbo-Visma are bringing to the race, with Steven Kruijswijk, Primož Roglič and George Bennett set to feature for the Dutch squad.
Jumbo-Visma’s roster is set to only get stronger in future Grand Tours, having today announced the signing of Tom Dumoulin from Sunweb.
The 2019 Vuelta a España begins on August 24 with a team time trial in Torrevieja and finishes in Madrid on September 15.