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Thomas, Roglic to spar in TT; Spain names Valverde’s teammates

Wide-open ITT drawing Thomas and Roglic, as Spain names eight to defend Valverde's stripes

More nations are finalizing their worlds rosters, with Spain confirming Wednesday the eight riders who will help defending champion Alejandro Valverde in the men’s road race.

The men’s individual time trial is also shaping up to be an interesting fight without a clear favorite for the rainbow jersey for the September 25 race.

Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) and recent Vuelta a España champ Primoz Roglic (Slovenia) are the latest to throw their hats in the ITT ring.

“Looking at the time trial, we have selected two very experienced time trial riders this year in ‘G’ and Alex [Dowsett], both of whom suit the course and as such we can expect to see good performances from them both,” said Team GB elite men’s coach Matt Brammeier on Wednesday. “‘G’ will then stick around to compete in the road race on the Sunday, and will no doubt be a valuable asset to the team in the final laps.”

The technical and rolling 54km course will be longest test against the clock this season, at least compared to the stage-racing calendar.

Thomas finished second at this year’s Tour de France, and skipped out on a shot at the Vuelta to prepare for the world championships on home roads.

Other ITT favorites include defending champion Rohan Dennis (Australia), back to racing following his abrupt exit from July’s Tour de France. Four-time world champ Tony Martin (Germany) also indicated he will race despite a heavy crash Friday at the Vuelta.

Other confirmed starters include world hour record-holder Victor Campenaerts and possibly Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Alex Dowsett (Great Britain), Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) and Stefan Küng (Switzerland). Chad Haga, a time trial winner at the Giro d’Italia, and Lawson Craddock will race for the Americans.

Roglic, meanwhile, is putting the time trial at the center of his world’s ambitions. He will also race in the new mixed-relay race to open competition this weekend — replacing the trade team time trial race nixed after last year — and then line up a week from Wednesday for the race against the clock and the elite men’s road race September 29. Roglic won the silver medal against the clock in 2017 behind Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), who remains sidelined with injury.

Representing Spain against the clock will be Jonathan Castroviejo, a solid time trialist who was third in the 2016 worlds behind Martin and Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus).

For the men’s road race, Spanish national coach Pascual Momparler signaled defending champion Valverde as the “only captain” for the nine-rider squad. Joining Valverde, hot off second place at the Vuelta, will be Imanol Erviti, José Joaquín Rojas, Marc Soler, the Izagirre brothers, Luis León Sánchez, Castroviejo and Iván García Cortina.

“We’ve built a competitive team based on the type of terrain we’ll be facing and how the race might turn out,” Momparler said. “The circuit is a bit of a rat-trap, so it’s important that the riders have a good connection with Valverde.”