Defending champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) will start the Vuelta a Espana with dossard number one on his back after the Italian team confirmed its nine-man selection.
Horner will bid to defend the title he won in Spain 12 month ago, when – then riding for RadioShack-Leopard – he became the oldest winner in Grand Tour history.
Now aged 42, Horner’s season with Lampre-Merida has been disrupted by injury and illness, and the American is still, according to his team, recovering from the bronchitis he suffered at the Tour de France having previously missed a chunk of the season after a training accident.
However, Horner will be on the start line in Jerez for Saturday’s team time trial to lead a vastly experienced Lampre-Merida team.
Former Giro d’Italia champion Damiano Cunego, 32, and Polish veteran Przemyslaw Niemiec, 34 and fresh from his fifth place at the Tour of Poland, are also selected.
Colombian Jose Serpa, 35, who finished fourth on stage 16 of the Tour de France after a day in the breakaway also offers valuable support in the mountains.
Roberto Ferrari, Filippo Pozzato and Maximiliano Richeze lead the team’s sprinting charge, and the line-up is completed by Winner Anacona and Elia Fervili.
In announcing the team, a statement on the Lampre-Merida website read: “Chris Horner will be in Jerez de la Frontera with the target of defending the title he won in Spain in the past season.
“Horner is well focused on trying to compete with a bunch of top riders, who are all willing to be on the throne of the Spanish race.
“Despite he’s undergoing therapy in order to recover from the bronchitis he’s suffering for since the start of Tour de France, the American rider aims to exploit the course of the race that is suitable for his characteristics.”
Lampre-Merida team for the 2014 Vuelta a Espana
Chris Horner (USA)
Damiano Cunego (ITA)
Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL)
Jose Serpa (COL)
Roberto Ferrari (ITA)
Maximiliano Richeze (ARG)
Elia Favilli (ITA)
Winner Anacona (COL)
Filippo Pozzato (ITA)