Vacansoleil-DCM have wasted no time in beginning their preparations for the Vuelta a Espana, and have announced a 13-man long list for the third and final Grand Tour of the season.
The 68th edition of the Spanish national tour is due to roll out in Galicia on August 24, and the Dutch team have named six of the team who recently completed the Tour de France in their preselection.
Dutchmen Lieuwe Westra, Wout Poels and Johnny Hoogerland, Belgian rider Thomas de Gendt, Uzbekistan’s Sergey Lagutin and Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha are all among the riders named.
De Gendt, who finished third overall at the 2012 Giro d’Italia, was a regular in breakaways during the Tour and also set an early benchmark during the hilly individual time trial in stage 17.
Dutch national time trial champion Westra was another who regularly featured in escapes, and enters the Vuelta on the back of a number of top-ten finishes – including eighth at Paris-Nice – this year.
He was forced to withdraw from the Tour on the final stage, however, after the pace on the Champs-Elysees proved too much for him following illness in the preceding days.
Poels meanwhile was Vacansoleil’s highest-placed rider, finishing 28th overall, while Dutch national champion Hoogerland recovered from a spectacular collision with an advertising hoarding in stage one to finish the Tour.
Directeur sportif Aart Vierhouten said of the selection: “The group of riders is very motivated and all riders have a strong motivation to start in this race.
“For example De Gendt is still wanting to show something in 2013, Poels is looking forward to follow-up on his Tour de France and Flecha is eager to race in his hometown.
“I believe we are ready for a great race.”
Classics specialist Flecha, 35, has earned numerous combative awards at Grand Tours, including stage 12 at this year’s Tour de France and stage 13 at the Vuelta last time out.
Currently in his debut year at Vacansoleil-DCM, his performances at the Tour de France saw him finish sixth in the points classification with 163 points.
Of the 13 riders named in Vacansoleil-DCM’s preselection, De Gendt, Lagutin, domestique Wouter Mol and Spanish climbing specialist Rafael Valls all rode the Vuelta last year.
Dutchmen Barry Markus and Wesley Kreder, both 22, could ride their first Grand Tour meanwhile, having both made a successful transition from track to road.
Belgians Willem Wauters and Frederik Veuchelen and Slovenia’s Grega Bole, all of whom rode this year’s Giro d’Italia, complete the provisional list.