Yates brothers to skip Vuelta; Chaves to lead Mitchelton-Scott

The Australian team will race for the podium with Chaves; defending champion Simon Yates decides to miss the Spanish grand tour.

Simon Yates won’t be defending his Vuelta a España title, but Mitchelton-Scott hopes it will have good podium chances with Esteban Chaves.

As expected, the 2019 Vuelta winner Yates won’t be racing in Spain on August 24 when the Vuelta kicks off in Torrevieja. Yates raced the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, where he won two stages, and will prepare, along with his twin brother Adam, for a shot at the Yorkshire world championships in September.

After winning a stage at the Giro in May, Chaves is hoping an illness-plagued 2018 season is finally behind him. Chaves battled through an infection that derailed much of his campaign last year, and hopes to be back in podium-challenging form that saw him hit third at the Vuelta in 2016.

“Normally the Vuelta suits me really well,” Chaves said. “I like the heat and I am happy with the preparation I had in Colombia after the Tour of Slovenia, and now I really want to race. The Vuelta is one race that has always treated me well since 2014, it was my first ever grand tour. I am excited to start racing; hopefully for all the work we have put in, the Vuelta will be good and that is what excites me.”

Chaves will see support in the mountains from former Vuelta stage winner Mikel Nieve, Damien Howson, and Tsgabu Grmay. Luka Mezgec will provide some punch for the sprint stages, with Sam Bewley, Nick Schultz, and grand tour rookie Dion Smith rounding out the squad.

“The GC is an objective for us and we have Esteban Chaves for that, but as well as that we are focusing on stage wins,” said sport director Julian Dean. “Overall, with the amount of meters of climbing, this year is one of the hardest we have seen in recent years for the Vuelta. Andorra is definitely a key stage, but also once we get up to Asturias there are some climbs that we have never done before in the Vuelta. We have been and looked at these, and they’re certainly quite tricky and could end up being critical stages.”