The 2018 Vuelta a España could boast its deepest field ever.
Although Team Sky won’t start defending champion Chris Froome or Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, the 73rd edition of the Spanish grand tour will see a stellar GC field along with a growing number of stage-hunters and attackers honing their form ahead of the world championships. The combination should deliver an exciting race.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) are among the top names confirming their Vuelta plans.
“I decided to race the Vuelta this year, as it fits perfectly into my preparations for the world championships in Innsbruck,” Sagan said Friday. “We’ll have to see how my crash at the Tour still affects me, but I feel I am on a good way back to my best.”
Vuelta officials released a preliminary start list that’s deep on GC contenders headlined by four former Vuelta winners. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Fabio Aru (UAE-Emirates) top the list.
Right behind them are Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Rigoberto Urán (EF-Drapac), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), the Yates brothers (Mitchelton-Scott), and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).
A climber-friendly worlds course is seeing many Innsbruck-bound riders heading to the Vuelta to prepare for a run at the rainbow jersey. GC contenders like Daniel Martin (UAE-Emirates) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will use the Vuelta as a trampoline to Austria.
“My preparation has been very different to the Giro d’Italia because like a few guys that will line up in Spain, I have one eye on the world championships later this year,” Yates said this week. “It will be interesting to see how my body responds but, as always, I’ll give it my all to achieve a great result.”
Even without Froome and Thomas, Sky will line up with Michal Kwiatkowski and David de la Fuente. Mikel Landa is still a question mark for Movistar after suffering a heavy fall at the Clásica San Sebastián.
Other confirmed names include Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ion and Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), Enric Mas and Viviani (Quick-Step).
North Americans Michael Woods (EF-Drapac), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), recent Tour of Utah winner Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin) are expected to start the Vuelta as well.
The race opens August 25 in Málaga with a prologue and loops around southern Spain for most of the first week. La Camperona and Lagos de Covadonga will highlight the second week, with an individual time trial in stage 16. Two hard days in Andorra cap the final weekend before the finale in Madrid on September 16.