Tinkoff-Saxo have unveiled the line-up that will join two-time champion Alberto Contador at the Vuelta a Espana in the hunt for stage wins.
Contador will return to action after crashing out of the Tour de France with a fractured leg, and though the 2008 and 2012 winner is not expected to challenge overall, he will seek to build form and challenge for stage wins in the mountains in the final week.
However, there is no place in the team for Roman Kreuziger, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the UCI’s decision to provisionally suspend the Czech rider while anomalies in his biological passport, from 2011, are investigated.
Philippe Mauduit, who will be the team’s lead directeur sportif at the Vuelta, said: “With Alberto we have the chance to compete on a high level in the high mountain stage finishes and on the medium mountain stages.
“Alberto crashed and broke his leg during the Tour and I’m not sure of it’s plausible to aim for the overall win after only a few weeks of hard training in the mountains but we’ll flash the jersey in the race and you will notice us.”
A balanced team also includes veteran Grand Tour campaigner Matteo Tossato, who will start the 30th three-week race of his career, and climbing domestiques Sergio Paulinho and Jesus Hernandez.
Chris Anker Sorensen, Daniele Bennati, Oliver Zaugg, Ivan Rovny and Danish national champion Michael Valgren complete the nine-man line-up. Bennati will hope to be in the mix on the flatter stages against the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
Tinkoff-Saxo recovered from Contador’s departure from the Tour de France by claiming three mountain stage wins, with Rafal Majka winning stages 14 and 17, and also taking home the King of the Mountains jersey, and Michael Rogers, who has signed a new two-year deal with the team, triumphing on stage 16.
Mauduit added: “It’s going to be a special race for us. Just like the last part of the Tour de France, we’ll take one stage at a time.
“Our line-up offers a number of opportunities. In the more flat terrain, we have a series of riders who will be able to nail the stage win that we are targeting in this year’s edition of the Vuelta.”
Tinkoff-Saxo for the 2014 Vuelta a Espana
Alberto Contador (ESP)
Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN)
Daniele Bennati (ITA)
Matteo Tosatto (ITA)
Sergio Paulinho (POR)
Oliver Zaugg (SUI)
Ivan Rovny (RUS)
Michael Valgren (DEN)
Jesus Hernandez (ESP)