Luke Rowe has been handed his Grand Tour debut by Team Sky after being named in the British WorldTour team’s nine-man line-up for the race.
Rowe joined Team Sky as a neo-pro at the start of 2012 and marked the end of his debut season with a stage win at the Tour of Britain. The 23-year-old was a key member of Team Sky’s Classics squad earlier this year and has been rewarded with his first start in a three-week race.
The 68th edition of the Vuelta starts in Galicia on Saturday and Rowe will ride in support of Colombian Sergio Henao, who will lead Team Sky in the final Grand Tour of the season.
The 25-year-old Henao has recorded 17 top ten finishes so far this season, including stage wins at the Volta ao Algarve and Tour of the Basque Country, as well as second in La Flèche Wallonne.
“It is an honour to be picked as the team leader and it’s a responsibility that I want to try and fulfill,” said Henao. “I respect what the team has asked of me and I want to try and make the most out of the opportunity.
“The Vuelta is always a hard race and it’s getting tougher every year. There are a lot of great riders targeting the race this season and the racing is going to be at a really high level.”
Henao to be supported by a strong cast which includes compatriot Rigoberto Uran, who took over leadership duties after Bradley Wiggins’ withdrawal at the Giro d’Italia and subsequently finished second overall.
Edvald Boasson Hagen returns to the fold having been forced out of the Tour de France after fracturing his shoulder on stage 12. The Norwegian all-rounder will be making his first appearance in the Vuelta a Espana where he will bid to join the select group of riders who have won stages in all three Grand Tours.
The experienced squad also includes Xabier Zandio, Christian Knees and Dario Cataldo, who have each made 14, 12 and 10 Grand Tour appearances respectively.
Vasil Kiryienka, meanwhile, was part of Team Sky’s squad at the Tour de France, won by Chris Froome, but the Belarusian was eliminated from the race after missing the time cut on stage nine.
Salvatore Puccio, who marked his Grand Tour debut by wearing the pink leader’s jersey in the Giro d’Italia in May, completes the squad.
Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford said: “It’s a testament to the strength and depth in this team that we can line up in all three Grand Tours this year with such strong squads.
“We’ve watched Sergio develop since he joined the team and this is a great opportunity for him to demonstrate what he is capable of on a big stage like the Vuelta.
“We have selected a squad for all eventualities out on the road and we’re excited to get started and to try to build on our success this season.”
Team Sky squad for the Vuelta a Espana
Edvald Boasson Hagen