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2014 Vuelta a España Team Guide

Many fans have been looking forward to this year's Vuelta, with it being the most unpredictable of 2014's Grand Tours. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) fulfilled many peoples expectations by winning the Giro d'Italia, while the Tour de France turned out to be a one-sided contest. In contrast, the high level of competition in Spain makes the result tough to call. Chris Froome (Sky) was not originally scheduled to compete, but his early withdrawal from 'La Grande Boucle' has left him free to continue his rivalry with Quintana - the pair fought it out for the top two places in last year's Tour.

Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma) and Fabio Aru (Astana) claimed the other podium places in Italy and will be hoping to match or improve their results, while Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who finished third and fourth respectively in this year's Tour, will also fancy their chances. All of the main contenders will have to measure their efforts as they will be racing in their second three-week race for 2014, although Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) should be best prepared as he used the trip around France as preparation for the Vuelta.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) would normally be considered as a favourite for the title, but his late return from injury could mean that he struggles to contend for a podium position. The competition looks like being too tough for experienced riders like former Tour champ Cadel Evans (BMC) and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), though both riders have a chance of making the top ten. A number of youngsters could also get a high overall placing, and attention should be paid to Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano), Carlos Betancur (Ag2r), and Esteban Chaves (Omega Pharma).

A number of other teams have multiple top-ten contenders and it will be interesting to see who prevails. Belkin have three riders capable of high placings (Robert Gesink, Wilco Kelderman, and Laurens ten Dam), while Garmin will be splitting their leadership between Ryder Hesjedal, Dan Martin, and Andrew Talansky.

General classification challengers have been in contention for the polka dot jersey over recent years, though the 'King of the Mountains' title is usually claimed by an adventurer who regularly gets into breaks to scoop up points on multiple peaks. Julián Arredondo (Trek) won the competition in this year's Giro and is likely to be in contention once more, with the constant attacking of Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) making him a probable opponent. Dario Cataldo (Sky) performed well in the Giro's mountain classification, but is more likely to be kept on a leash so that he can work for Froome.

The Vuelta points classification is often claimed by an overall contender and, with only five flat stages, that is likely to be the case this year. The jersey has only been won by climbers since 2010, even in years such as 2012 when John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) dominated the sprints and claimed five stage wins. Should a sprinter go home with the jersey, it is most probable that it will be a fast man who can stick with the pace over hilly terrain, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Michael Matthews (ORICA) being the main candidates.

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre) are the sprinters most likely to challenge Degenkolb, Sagan, and Matthews for flat stage wins, althouth there is a chance that Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma) or Gerald Ciolek (MTN) could take the odd victory.

Update: Julián Arredondo (Trek) was forced to abandon after suffering from fatigue on stage 15.
Update: Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma) did not start stage 18 in order to prepare for the World Championships.
Update: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) abandoned on stage 14 in order to prepare for the World Championships.
Update: Fabian Cancellara (Trek) did not start stage 18 in order to prepare for the World Championships.
Update: Robert Gesink (Belkin) did not start stage 18 in order to be with his wife in hospital.
Update: Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was forced to abandon after crashing on stage 11.
Update: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was forced to abandon after suffering from a fever on stage 11.
Update: Peter Sagan (Cannondale) abandoned on stage 14 in order to prepare for the World Championships.
Update: Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma) did not start stage 17 after suffering from bronchitis.
Update: Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) did not start stage 17 after suffering from bronchitis.

Ag2r-La Mondiale
France

Astana Pro Team
Kazakhstan

Belkin Pro Cycling Team
Netherlands

BMC Racing Team
United States

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Spain

Cannondale
Italy

Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
France

FDJ.fr
France

Garmin-Sharp
United States

IAM Cycling
Switzerland

Katusha Team
Russia

Lampre-Merida
Italy

Lotto-Belisol
Belgium

Movistar Team
Spain

MTN Qhubeka
South Africa

Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Belgium

ORICA-GreenEDGE
Australia

Team Europcar
France

Team Giant-Shimano
Netherlands

Team Sky
United Kingdom

Tinkoff-Saxo
Denmark

Trek Factory Racing
United States

Sections in 2014 VUELTA A ESPAÑA GUIDE:

» Results
» Abandonments

» Stage Guide
» Team Guide
» Vuelta Lexicon

 

 




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