Cannondale arrive at the Vuelta with a balanced team with stage wins their prime target, with soon-to-be BMC Racing duo Alessandro de Marchi and Damiano Caruso named as their men for the hills and mountains.
De Marchi already has one King of the Mountains jersey to his name this year, from the Criterium du Dauphine, and was such a regular in the break at the Tour de France that he was awarded the combativity prize.
He is likely to feature in the breaks again at the Vuelta, such is his nature, but whether he has the legs to compete for the polka dot jersey remains to be seen – which is where Caruso comes in.
An accomplished climber, Caruso will enjoy a relative amount of freedom on the mountain stages with no GC man to support – something which is unlikely to be repeated at BMC Racing, who he will ride for in 2015.
Caruso has been in good form at lower-ranked races, earning top-ten finishes at the Tour of Austria, Tour of Slovenia and Coppi e Bartali – and proved his climbing form and penchant for attacking on stages four and five of this year’s Criterium du Dauphine.
If either he or de Marchi are able to pick up some big stage wins, or feature in the break on the mountainous stages, expect them to be up there and challenging for the polka dot jersey.