Mikel Landa will miss this year’s Vuelta a Espana after withdrawing from Team Sky’s lineup with an injury.
Landa, who had been confirmed to race as part of the nine man squad, told medical staff that he was experiencing discomfort after aggravating an injury to his hip. After an initial MRI scan was taken, the decision was made to withdraw him from the squad in order to allow him to fully recover from his injury.
Spanish climber David Lopez will now join up with the squad ahead of Saturday’s opening team time trial. The experienced Lopez is a Vuelta stage winner and will be starting his 15th Grand Tour. Earlier this season he was part of Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia lineup.
Team Sky has announced a strong lineup for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana.
The 71st edition of the Spanish Grand Tour starts with a team time trial in Ourense on Saturday 20th August, before culminating with a sprinter-friendly finish in Madrid on Sunday 11th September.
Chris Froome leads the team and will be looking to continue the momentum that has seen him claim a third Tour de France title, in addition to an Olympic bronze medal in the time trial this season.
Froome will be joined in Spain by the well-rounded unit of Ian Boswell, Michal Golas, Pete Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Leopold Konig, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Salvatore Puccio.
On the upcoming Vuelta, Froome said: “It’s already been a great summer for both myself and the team, but the Vuelta is another big challenge for us.
“The tough course and stiff competition is bound to make for some aggressive racing. We’re going there with a strong group of guys who have a lot of experience with this race.
“The Vuelta is a race I really enjoy and where I guess you could say I have unfinished business, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”
The 2016 Team Sky Vuelta a Espana lineup in full:
Chris Froome – age 31 – United Kingdom
Fresh from winning an awe-inspiring third Tour de France title Chris Froome sizes up his next big challenge. The Brit has unfinished business with the Vuelta, the race that signalled his Grand Tour breakthrough back in 2011. Runner up on that occasion, as well as in 2014, Froome also has a fourth place to his name from 2012. With a fractured ankle curtailing his challenge last season, he will be hoping to continue his stellar form into the autumn.
Ian Boswell – age 25 – United States
Returning to the scene of his Grand Tour debut last season, the American has gone from strength to strength since turning pro in 2013. Helping the team to overall victories at Herald Sun Tour, the Giro del Trentino and Paris-Nice already this season, ‘Boz’ has become a key part of the stage race roster, and completed his first Giro d’Italia in May. Look for that progression to continue at the Vuelta, as he takes on an even more key role in the mountains.
Michal Golas – age 32 – Poland
The Vuelta marks Golas’ first Grand Tour appearance for Team Sky, but the Pole has tackled all three of cycling’s biggest races during his career. National champion on the road in 2012, having quickly settled into life at Team Sky he helped Geraint Thomas secure victory at the Volta ao Algarve earlier this year, and will put his experience and work rate to good use across the three weeks.
Pete Kennaugh – age 27 – United Kingdom
A two-time British National Champion, few riders are able to animate a bike race like Kennaugh. The last few years have seen the Manxman start to rack up the victories, and having started 2016 in great form he claimed both the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, and a stage at the Herald Sun Tour. With experience in all three Grand Tours, he played a key role in helping Chris Froome to victory during his inaugural Tour de France success in 2013. Whether attacking or setting the tempo, Kennaugh is always a rider to watch.
Christian Knees – age 35 – Germany
One of cycling’s most experienced and well-respected domestiques, Knees will line up at his fourth consecutive Vuelta a Espana. Along with Boswell and Landa, the former German champion made up part of Team Sky’s Giro squad in May. Comfortable setting a tempo and using his considerable frame to keep his team leader out of the wind, Knees is also an incredibly adept climber, and no stranger to setting a pace in the medium mountains.
Leopold König – age 28 – Czech Republic
After a knee injury ruled Konig out for the first half of the season the Czech star has quickly bounced back, becoming the national time trial champion and putting in strong performances at the Tour de Suisse and Tour of Poland. With top-10 finishes at all three Grand Tours to his name, including a stage win in the 2013 Vuelta a Espana on his way to finishing ninth, Konig will be a key lieutenant to Chris Froome on the race’s critical days.
Michal Kwiatkowski – age 26 – Poland
The 2014 world road race champion needs no introduction, with this season marking the Vuelta debut for ‘Kwiato’. With a rousing victory at E3 Harelbeke one of the highlights of the team’s season, Kwiatkowski arrives in Spain off the back of a strong attacking performance for Poland in the recent Olympic road race. Accomplished in both one-day and stage racing, he will play a key part across the three weeks, with 11th overall at the 2013 Tour de France showing just what he can achieve at Grand Tour level.
Mikel Landa – age 26 – Spain
Lining up for his third Grand Tour appearance of the year and a fifth Vuelta, Landa has already enjoyed a successful first season as a Team Sky rider. Combining overall victory at the Giro del Trentino with helping Froome secure success in Paris, Landa now turns his attention to his home Grand Tour. The Basque climbing star won a stage in last year’s race and is one of the most feared climbers in the peloton.
Salvatore Puccio – age 26 – Italy
The loveable Italian returns for his third crack at the Vuelta and lines up off the back of his most assured season yet. Puccio will turn 27 during the race and has grown significantly as a rider since joining Team Sky in 2012. Comfortable no matter the terrain, he is most often seen working hard for others, but came close to a crowd-pleasing stage victory 12 months ago in Spain, taking the runner-up spot on a foggy 14th stage.