Team Sky have announced a strong line-up to support Bradley Wiggins at the Vuelta a Espana, while Mark Cavendish will fine-tune his World Championships preparations by riding his third Grand Tour of 2011.
Wiggins arrived at the Tour de France in fine form having won the Critérium du Dauphiné and his first national road race title but the Team Sky leader crashed out with a broken collar bone on stage seven.
The 31-year-old, who underwent surgery three days later and quickly set his sights on the Vuelta, will be supported by fellow Brits Ian Stannard and Chris Froome in Spain from August 20-September 11.
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway), Dario Cioni (Italy), Thomas Lofkvist (Sweden), Morris Possoni (Italy), Chris Sutton (Australia), Xabier Zandio (Spain) are also named in Team Sky’s provisional line-up.
The 2011 route starts with a 13.5km team time trial and features six summit finishes, while stage ten, a 47km individual time trial, will favour Wiggins.
Denis Menchov will lead Geox-TMC in search of a third Vuelta triumph, while Jurgen Vandenbroeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) also feature on the provisional start list.
Meanwhile, Cavendish is joined by Matt Goss (Australia) and Tony Martin (Germany), who both helped the Manx Missile to win the green jersey at the Tour de France, in the squad for HTC-Highroad’s final Grand Tour.
Cavendish will use the Vuelta to prepare for the men’s World Championship road race on September 25, which the 26-year-old has identified as the “best chance” in his career to earn the rainbow jersey.
Michael Albasini (Switzerland), John Degenkolb (Germany), Bert Grabsch (Germany), Leigh Howard (Australia), Kanstantin Sivtsov (Russia) and Martin Velits (Slovakia) complete HTC’s Vuelta team.