Thomas Löfkvist, the Swedish all-rounder who rode to the top-20 at the Tour de France, will be leading Team Sky’s hopes into the Vuelta a España.
Löfkvist will joined by a mix of experienced veterans and hungry prospects, with stage victories and a strong showing in GC for the final grand tour of the year for Sky.
“The Vuelta is a nice race. I like it. It’s a bit more relaxed than the Tour de France,” Löfkvist said in a Vuelta release. “But I’ll go to Spain with the same mindset as at the Tour de France. I’ll take it day by day and do my best. I’m there to continue to work for the future. I’m riding the Vuelta for doing even better at the Tour next year.”
Löfkvist went to the Tour this year to support of Bradley Wiggins, who failed repeating his performance of 2009 when he finished fourth overall. In the Pyrénées, the Swede became Sky’s first rider on GC and he coped well with the heat, which is something that has handicapped him on several occasions previously.
“I got the most out of me at the Tour”, Löfkvist said. “I did well. I was consistent. I had a poor time trial though, so I hope to do better at the Vuelta.”
His top 10 at the individual time trial of the Tour du Limousin this week reassured him of his capacities of riding fast against the clock. Löfkvist (who changed his spelling of his name to correctly replace the first “v” with a “f” as its shown on his passport) will carry the team’s GC hopes into the Vuelta.
“At the Vuelta, I want to be consistent again and avoid to have a bad day,” he continued. “At Team Sky, I’ll be free to ride for GC and everybody else will target stage wins. We have big hopes to do so with Simon Gerrans and the young British riders like Ben Swift. We’ll go for breakaways.”
Joining Löfkvist will be a strong squad full of ambitious riders out to leave a mark.
Popular Spanish classics rider Juan Antonio Flecha will be starting his sixth career Vuelta and is always a factor for breakaways. Ben Swift will try his luck in the sprints while John-Lee Augustyn will have plenty of chances to seek glory, with eight mountain stages in this year’s Vuelta.
Simon Gerrans, a winner of a stage 10 in last year’s Vuelta with Cervélo, will be motivated to make up for lost time after he crashed out of the Tour de France with a broken arm. The Aussie returned to racing this month and should be hitting solid form midway through the Vuelta.
In an interesting bit of trivia, Gerrans is one of the only six active pros who have won a stage in all three grand tours.
The other five are:
- Alessandro Petacchi (Vuelta 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, Giro 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, Tour 2003, 2010)
- Pablo Lastras (Giro 2001, Vuelta 2002, Tour 2003)
- David Zabriskie (Vuelta 2004, Giro 2005, Tour 2005)
- Denis Menchov (Vuelta 2004, 2005, 2007, Tour 2006, Giro 2009)
- Daniele Bennati (Vuelta 2007, 2008, Tour 2007, Giro 2008)
There are three strong candidates on the start list of the 2010 Vuelta a España for making this list of happy few longer: sprinter Mark Cavendish who will make his debut in Spain, Filippo Pozzato who has opened his account of stage wins in Italy in May this year, and Carlos Sastre who has finished five times 2nd at stages of the Vuelta a España since 2001 but has yet to win on home soil.
Team Sky for Vuelta a España
- John-Lee Augustyn (SA)
- Thomas Löfkvist (Swe)
- Kjell Carlstrom (Fin)
- Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)
- Simon Gerrans (Aus)
- Peter Kennaugh (UK)
- Lars Peter Nordhaugh (Nor)
- Ian Stannard (UK)
- Ben Swift (UK)