LEON, Spain (VN) — Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and grand tour rookie Peter Sagan headline a deep Liquigas-Cannondale team for the Vuelta a España.
Nibali will be arriving in fighting shape to try to defend his victory from last year while Sagan, hot off victory at the Tour of Poland, will be aiming to win stages and gain experience in his first grand tour.
“We are aware of our strength and the expectations that will be built up around the team,” said sport director Mario Scirea in a team release. “Nibali has had very positive training and is showing a new increase in form. We are certain that he will be among the protagonists of the race.”
While Nibali will be the rider of reference for the GC, many are looking to see how Sagan can handle the rigors of racing for three weeks.
The team kept him out of the Tour de France to not put too much pressure on him, but will be hoping that Sagan can win at least one stage and roll out of the Vuelta in top shape for the worlds.
“Sagan is in very good shape, but remember, he is only 21 and this is the first he’s attempted to race for three weeks,” Scirea continued.
“We should take it day by day, without pressure, but be aware of what his big talent can offer.”
Liquigas-Cannondale will also bring riders to help Nibali as well as go on the hunt for stages. The team is also hopeful for Eros Capecchi.
“The Vuelta can also offer a breakthrough and an important stepping stone, and I am referring particularly to Capecchi,” Scirea said.
“He’s already shown he can compete at the highest levels and will join Nibali in the fight for the overall standings.”
Liquigas-Cannondale for Vuelta: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Peter Sagan (SLO), Dominik Nerz (GER), Eros Capecchi, Valerio Agnoli, Damiano Caruso, Francesco Bellotti, Mauro Da Dalto, Alan Marangoni (all ITA)
Editor’s Note: VeloNews’ European correspondent Andrew Hood, based in Leon, Spain, will be covering the entire Vuelta a España in person.