Chris Froome will lead Team Sky at the Vuelta a Espana.
The Kenyan-born Brit, who finished second to Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France in July, will head the challenge of the nine-strong squad at the third of the season’s Grand Tours, which starts in Pamplona on Saturday August 18.
Froome came close to winning the race last year, finishing second to Juan Jose Cobo (Geox) after Team Sky pursued a joint challenge with Wigins, who was third.
Froome said: “It’s always been my plan to ride the Vuelta. I’ll be going into the race as team leader but that’s not to say we don’t have other guys who can be right up there on the GC. Rigoberto [Uran] and Sergio [Henao] both have huge potential, and Richie is another guy who could shine.
“I’m going to do the best job I can and do whatever’s required of me from the team. Initially I’ll be riding for the GC, but if one of my team-mates shows that they’re in a better place to win the race then I’ll happily work for them. We’re sending a first-rate squad and it should be a really exciting race.”
Froome’s superb season continued at the Olympic Games, where eight days ago he won a bronze medal in the men’s time trial.
He was not the only Team Sky rider to enjoy Olympic success. Columbian team-mate, Rigoberto Urán, won silver after losing the final sprint of the men’s road race to Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Vinokourov. Fellow Columbian, Sergio Henao, another rider to contest the Olympic road race, will also race the Vuelta.
The south American duo enjoyed a strong Giro d’Italia, both finishing in the top 10 (Uran seventh, and Heano ninth). Henao, who, like Uran, wore the white jersey of best young rider and has since finished on the podium at the Tour de Pologne.
Urán said each member of the team was in-form, giving the squad a chance to replicate their success of last year’s Vuelta.
“The route is very mountainous and there are plenty of summit finishes which will suit mine and Froomey’s styles. There should be plenty of chances to show what I can do and I’ll also be there to help the team as much as possible.”
Froome will enjoy further support in the mountains from the Australian, Richie Porte, who won the Volta ao Algarve stage race in April. Porte was a key member of Team Sky’s Tour de France squad.
Britain’s Ben Swift will contest the sprints, where he is likely to enjoy support from British road race champion, Ian Stannard, another member of the squad to contest the Olympic road race.
Two experienced Spaniards have been chosen in the form of Juan Antonio Flecha, who will serve as road captain, and Xabier Zandio.
Directuer sportif, Nicolas Portal, said: “We’ve got every base covered with this line up. We have Olympic medallists, amazing climbers, some really strong guys on the flat, and a very fast sprinter.
“Every rider knows their role and they will need to be alert from the very first stage as the level of competition is so high.
“With Froomey, we saw how he improved as the Tour de France went on and he will be very strong here again. This race is a major goal for him and we have the team to give him the best possible chance of success.”