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No Froome, no Thomas: De La Cruz and Kwiatkowski headline Team Sky's Vuelta a Espana squad

Joe Robinson
22 Aug 2018

Team Sky send mix of experience and youth to Vuelta as they look to take three Grand Tours out of three

In the absence of Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, who have opted to ride the Tour of Britain, Team Sky will send home rider David De La Cruz as team leader to the Vuelta a Espana which starts in Malaga this Saturday.

De La Cruz will be joined by recent Tour of Poland winner Michal Kwiatkowski and Grand Tour debutant Tao Geoghan Hart as the team which has dominated Grand Tour racing in 2018 so far looks to make it a clean sweep.

The Spaniard has built his 2018 season around the Vuelta having seldom raced since the Giro d'Italia in May. Returning to racing at the Clasica San Sebastian earlier this month, De La Cruz then managed to finish third overall at the Vuelta a Burgos, the traditional warm-up race for the Vuelta. 

Looking to carry this form into the Vuelta, De La Cruz hopes to improve on his seventh-place finish at the Vuelta back in 2016 while riding for Quick-Step Floors.

'The Vuelta has been my big goal of the season. I’ve worked really hard in the months following the Giro d’Italia and finally, it’s time,' said De La Cruz.

'I felt really comfortable during Vuelta a Burgos and feel really at home in the team. Everyone was working perfectly together there and I’m really looking forward to La Vuelta. It’s my home race and it’s going to be special to do it with Team Sky.'

Key to De La Cruz's success will be Kwiatokowski. The Pole will have his first experience of racing two Grand Tours in one season having already raced the Tour de France back in July.

Then, Kwiatkowski was a pivotal part of Thomas's eventual victory but whether he will play a similar role in Spain is unknown.

Taking the Tour of Poland race this month proved that he carried form from the Tour but it is uncertain whether he will be able to carry this for another three weeks of racing.

Instead, it is more likely that the versatile rider will be dispatched in hunt of stage wins and as an experiment to see how he copes with an increased racing programme. 

'Vuelta selection is another important step in my career,' explained Kwiatkowski. 'I’ve never raced two Grand Tours in one season, so I am intrigued to see how my body will react to that challenge.

'But I don’t feel any pressure – just excitement before a new experience.

'It’s been a busy summer for me. Just six days after the Tour de France I started in the Tour of Poland and was able to stay in top shape, winning my home race. This year I’m trying to finish the season with a slightly different approach.

'I think that staying in a racing rhythm might just suit me.'

British interests will be represented by Tao Geoghegan Hart who makes his Grand Tour debut. The 23-year-old has posted some impressive results, including fifth at the Tour of California and Vuelta a Burgos, and is quickly becoming a vital part of Team Sky's mountain train.

Alongside fellow debutant Pavel Sivakov, both riders will be given an opportunity to experience racing over three weeks as they continue their development, with both considered two of the world's biggest stage race prospects.

Team Sky will also take experienced duo Sergio Henao and Salvatore Puccio while Jonathan Castroviejo will be one to watch on the Stage 16 individual time trial to Torrelavega. 

Completing the team will be Dutch Classics specialist Dylan Van Baarle who makes his Grand Tour debut for the British WorldTour team.

Team Sky Vuelta a Espana 2018 line up

Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP)
David De La Cruz (ESP)
Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR)
Sergio Henao (COL)
Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
Salvatore Puccio (ITA)
Pavel Sivakov (RUS)
Dylan Van Baarle (NED)