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Vuelta a Espana

Brandon McNulty and João Almeida feature in UAE Team Emirates squad for Vuelta a España

Exciting prospect Juan Ayuso to make his grand tour debut.

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João Almeida and Brandon McNulty will both feature in a strong-looking UAE Team Emirates squad for the Vuelta a España. Both riders will be making their Vuelta debuts.

Mauro Gianetti’s team announced the squad’s full eight-rider roster on Saturday morning with McNulty competing in his secondstraight grand tour having raced the Tour de France in July. Almeida, who will challenge for the GC, will be hoping to bounce back after being forced out of the Giro d’Italia due to COVID. The rider was sitting fourth overall in the GC when he was forced to leave the race.

Also read:João Almeida on Vuelta a España: ‘I’ll do everything I can but I’ll keep my feet on the ground’

Almeida has found form since his return to competition. He won the final mountaintop finish at the Vuelta a Burgos earlier in August and claimed second overall.

“There’s no stress. I will do everything that I can but I’ll have my feet on the ground,” Almeida told VeloNews when asked about his hopes ahead of his Vuelta debut.

“The route starts in Holland, so there won’t be much climbing. It will all be about positioning and of course you need the legs but it’s a good start for me. Maybe I can evolve as the race goes on.”

McNulty took three early wins in the season, including a stage in Paris-Nice, but spent the majority of the summer working for Tadej Pogačar at the Tour de France. The American was a key rider in the Slovenian’s mountain train but the squad would eventually lose out to Jonas Vinegaard and Jumbo-Visma.

The Vuelta a España team also includes Juan Ayuso, with the 19-year-old talent set to make his grand tour debut. The young Spaniard has had an impressive full season in the WorldTour with fourth overall at the Tour of Romandie, and fifth at the Vuelta a Catalunya.

While the team will obviously hunt the GC and stages in the mountains, there is also an opportunity for sprinter Pascal Ackermann with the German selected for his first grand tour since joining the team at the start of the season. The 28-year-old had a difficult start to the season but recently found form with a stage win at the Tour of Poland.

Further depth within the team comes via Marc Soler, Jan Polanc, and Ackermann’s leadout rider, Juan Sebastián Molano.