Vuelta a Espana 2014: red jersey contenders

Nairo Quitnana, Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez among riders to go head-to-head for red in Spain

In announcing the team set to support Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde in Spain, Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue admitted it is not just the chief GC men who need to be watched.

This season’s two Grand Tours have proved the point already – with Fabio Aru (Astana), Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot ( all enjoying places on the podium at the Giro d’Italia (Aru) and Tour de France (Peraud and Pinot).

Fabio Aru celebrates the biggest win of his career after victory atop the Montecampione at the Giro d’Italia (Pic: Sirotti)

Aru, third at the Giro, returns for the Vuelta to lead a relatively young Astana team and the Italian will hope to replicate the form he showed in the Italian mountains.

Meanwhile, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) will hope to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of his stage one Giro d’Italia crash and could find himself among the dark horses.

The same can be said of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who though he has not been named as team leader – Samuel Sanchez has that honour – will race as a protected rider on the back of two stages wins at the Tour of Utah.

The Australian veteran’s ability to maintain his form over the length of a Grand Tour was called into question after he faded at the Giro d’Italia but he is still one to keep an eye on.

Belkin trio Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman and Laurens ten Dam are also likely to be in the shake-up for a top ten finish, while Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) and team-mate Haimar Zubeldia will hope to cap what has been a strong season for both.

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