All teams express their ambition for the Vuelta

ASTANA. Alexander Shefer: “We hope for a podium finish with Vincenzo Nibali. He’s our only leader, really. Jakob Fuglsang and Janez Brajkovic can make the top 10 of every Grand Tour but they aren’t exactly leaders. We’ll see in which role we’ll ask them to race, whether it’ll have to be in defense or in attack. Maxim Iglinskiy is able to win a stage, he’s also here to get a good condition for the world championship.”

KATUSHA. Dimitri Konyshev: “Our goal is to race with no stress. Shall we achieve that, we’ll do well. Joaquim Rodriguez is in excellent condition. He’s stronger than at the Tour de France [he finished third].”

LOTTO-BELISOL. Bart Leysen: “Our first objective is to win a stage. We’ve done it at the Giro [with Adam Hansen] and at the Tour [with André Greipel]. Our stage hunters are Greg Henderson in the sprints, Jelle Vanendert in hilly stages as he came back in form but won’t target GC and Tosh Van der Sande who is doing his first Grand Tour. He has asked to do so after seeing his friend Kenny De Haes become stronger after a three-week race. He’ll have his chance in stages that aren’t flat and not mountainous.”

SKY. Markus Ljunqvist: “Sergio Henao is our leader for GC. We don’t have a rider who could create a surprise like Chris Froome did two years ago, because Rigoberto Uran has already showed what he can do [second at the Giro] but he’ll be here in support of Sergio. Edvald Boasson Hagen is in good shape. He’ll be in the mix for a couple of stages.”

BMC. Yvon Ledanois: “We clearly target stage wins, hoping that Philippe Gilbert will have recovered the pedaling style he had before his crash at the Eneco Tour. He has identified the stages that suit him. He’s in the same state of mind as last year. He has the countdown of the world championship but he’s not here only for training. He hasn’t won a race with the rainbow jersey yet and the Vuelta is his last chance.”

GARMIN-SHARP. Johnny Weltz: “We’ll see if Dan Martin can do well on GC and we hope to win a stage as well. Tyler Farrar wants to go for bunch sprints. Alex Howes and Caleb Fairly are here to realize what they can do in a Grand Tour, while Nick Nuyens and Johan Vansummeren already have in mind the preparation of next year’s Spring classics campaign.”

NETAPP-ENDURA. Alex Sans Vega: “We want that after the Vuelta, people know about NetApp and say that we deserve our invitation. To achieve that, we’ll race very offensively. We have a mixed team of riders who can try and win many different stages. For GC, we have Leo König who is doing his first Grand Tour [after winning the Czech Cycling Tour and stage 7 at the Tour of California]. We’ll see how far he can go and we’ll support him if does well.”

CANNONDALE. Mario Scirea: “Ivan [Basso] is going very well. I foresee him in the top 5 overall. He’s here for fighting. On paper it’s a difficult Vuelta. Joaquim Rodriguez has the characteristics for winning with the time bonus up for grab.”

ARGOS-SHIMANO. Marc Reef: “We’re here to win a stage. To win as many stages as last year [5 with John Degenkolb] will be difficult but we’ll go for it. We have a young team [the youngest with an average age of 25 years and 114 days, while the oldest is RadioShack-Leopard with 32 years and 243 days] with several up and coming sprinters [Nikias Arndt, 21, who is the youngest starter, Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg, Roman Sinkeldam] and [2012 Tour de l’Avenir winner] Warren Barguil who has a chance for a good result in a hard stage. We won’t put pressure on him for riding GC, he’s still very young [21 year old and second youngest rider].”

ORICA-GREENEDGE. Neil Stephens: “We’re here to win more stages than last year [1]. The two Simon [Gerrans and Clarke] will work a lot in the climbs to get ready for the world championship. Clarke was the king of the mountains here last year, that could become a goal again.”

SAXO-TINKOFF. Fabrizio Guidi: “We want to have one or two riders in the top 10 overall and win a few stages. We’ve got a great team for the mountains with Roman Kreuziger, Rafal Majka, Chris Anker Sorensen and Nicolas Roche. Kreuziger is our natural leader if he’s got the same form as at the Tour, but he’ll ride with no pressure. Majka [7th at the Giro and 4th at the Tour of Poland] still has to gain experience. If there’s a possibility for a result, he’s got the legs!”

LAMPRE-MERIDA. Matxin Fernandez: “We’re here for winning the Vuelta with whoever. It can be [Michele] Scarponi or [Winner] Anacona who resumed racing at the Tour of Poland [after his crash on Christmas eve] and will be fresh but maybe a bit short in condition. I have a lot of confidence in Scarponi. He has mentalized the Vuelta very well, he’s got a great morale after training in altitude with his team-mates. Diego Ulissi who is a very spectacular rider can do something great as well. Like two years ago, there are several favorites for the Vuelta: Rodriguez, Valverde, Mollema, Sanchez, Basso, Nibali, Henao. This time, I don’t have in my team someone like Juan José Cobo who came as a surprise winner but the equivalent rider who can win it is Chris Horner despite his age [almost 42].”

CAJA RURAL. Eugenio Goicoechea: “Our goal was to be invited at the Vuelta, so we come back with the same intention to demonstrate to the organizer that we deserve our ticket, as we did last year with Antonio Piedra [stage winner atop Lagos de Covadonga] who will again look for opportunities and we hope that he’ll be lucky to get his chance on an appropriate day. This year, we also have David Arroyo [who just finished second at the Vuelta a Burgos] for GC and Francesco Lasca for the sprints.”

RADIOSHACK-LEOPARD. Jose Azevedo: “Our team is used to ride for GC. Here we count on Chris Horner and Robert Kiserlovski. We’ll try and make the top 10. Otherwise we’ve got some riders for stage victories, notably Fabian Cancellara who is focused on the individual time trial.”

EUSKALTEL. Gorka Gerrikagoïtia: “We mainly want to win the race with Samuel Sanchez. This is second Grand Tour this year but it’s not the first time he’s doing that. Giro and Vuelta, that’s a good calendar. He’s very motivated. He’s our only leader with two lieutenants, Igor Anton and Mikel Nieve. Everyone is else will work as domestiques.”

FDJ.FR. Franck Pineau: “The minimum objective we’ve got is to win a stage. Approaching the last week, we’ll see where Thibaut Pinot stands and we’ll allow him to achieve what he wants. We can’t say in advance what he’s able to do because he comes from a failure at the Tour de France. He’s here with mates of his and he wants to enjoy cycling in an atmosphere of serenity. We’ve got other cards to play, for instance with Anthony Roux who’s in great shape, but Thibaut is the rider who will articulate our race.”

OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP. Rik Van Slycke: “Even without Mark Cavendish, we want to win a stage. Tony Martin has the time trial of Tarazona [stage 11] in mind. [Eneco Tour winner] Zdenek Stybar and Gianni Meersman are going well. Having the world championship as a goal doesn’t prevent our riders from targeting a stage victory at the Vuelta. Kevin De Weert is a good rider for GC but against the likes of Nibali and Rodriguez, we’re not the best team. Circumstances of racing dictated by breakaways will determine what we can do.”

COFIDIS. Stéphane Augé: “Our wish is a stage victory. We’ve got attackers and we’ll know about our possibilities on GC after no more than three stages. Shall Jérôme Coppel begins well, he can contemplate a good position overall. We hope to find him as efficient as he was at the service of Dani Navarro towards the end of the Tour de France, where he crashed on day 1. Yoann Bagot and Nicolas …

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