Team Sky turns to the Vuelta a España after winning the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, but who will fill their eight-man roster with Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas due to spend some well-earned time at home?
Without his proven Grand Tour stars, team boss David Brailsford is expected to make a youthful selection for the Spanish tour which takes place fom August 25 to September 16. In the line up with star rider Michal Kwiatkowski, 23-year-old Tao Geoghegan Hart should make his Grand Tour debut.
Cycling Weekly takes a look at the likely eight men in the Team Sky roster when the race departs from Málaga.
The Polish rider could be secretly aiming for the overall in the Vuelta a España without the task of helping Froome or Thomas. Already he kicked around the idea when he raced for Quick-Step. Now, with several smaller stage race wins already under his belt and Sky support, the 2014 world champion may try for a decent overall placing.
Tao Geoghegan Hart
Sky are expected to give 23-year-old Geoghegan Hart the nod after placing fifth overall in the Tour of California and being the star domestique to Thomas’s Critérium du Dauphiné overall win in June.
The Englishman would be useful for the similar mountain stages in Spain. He may lack experience, but Team Sky showed with 21-year-old Egan Bernal in the Tour that they are not afraid to take a chance.
David De La Cruz
The Spaniard backed off after the Giro d’Italia for his own double shot at the Giro/Vuelta. He is returning to racing this weekend in the Clásica San Sebastián to be an important arm of Sky’s Vuelta front.
The Giro/Vuelta is not only doable for De La Cruz, but possible at a high level. In 2016, he raced two weeks of the Giro and then placed seventh in the Vuelta.
The Spaniard could back up his Tour ride to offer strength and experience in the mountains. Tao Geoghegan Hart could learn much from the knowledgeable helper who proved so useful to Thomas’s Tour title. They are both are racing in San Sebastián on Saturday.
The Spaniard is due for a Grand Tour ride this 2018 season, and after riding the Vuelta the last two seasons, he seems like a logical mountain helper for the 2018 edition.
Age, at 37, may be an issue if Brailsford wants to field a younger team. He could instead turn to someone like Italian Diego Rosa, who proved handy for Froome’s 2017 Vuelta win.
The Colombian should be one of the mountain support men in Vuelta. In May he helped Froome win the Giro and took a break afterwards. With the 2017 Paris-Nice win and several other overall placings, he should offer Sky alternatives when going for stage wins and the overall.
He is restarting in the Tour of Poland with Kwiatkowski this month. His cousin Sebastian Henao, 24, would be a more youthful alternative if Sky want to go that route.
Golas could motor along for the team including compatriot Kwiatkowski in the Vuelta. After a break, he is warming up at home in the Tour of Poland before the likely trip to Spain. Golas, though 34, seems the logical selection over the younger Polish rider, and probably too inexperienced, Lukasz Wisniowski.
Sky has several options for another power rider in its white and black charge over Spain’s wide and open roads. Stannard proved useful for Froome’s 2017 victory and began racking up race miles to be back on track for his Grand Tour return. He is racing next week in the Tour of Poland.
Without Stannard, Sky could take Vasil Kiryienka or Christian Knees. The former is more likely, but if not Kiryienka or Stannard, then Italian Salvatore Puccio could get the call from Sir Dave.