A Look at the Sprinters in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana

News & Results

08/21/2011| 0 comments
by Thomas A. Valentinsen
Mark Cavendish. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Mark Cavendish. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

A Look at the Sprinters in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana

Roadcycling.com offer our readers a look at the major sprinters who are part of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana peloton.

The 2011 Tour of Spain is said to suit the climbers because of its many mountain top finishes, but the world's best sprinters won't be missing out either and will do anything possible to exploit the opportunities the 2011 Vuelta a Espana route give them - not least in the first week of racing.

The first big battle between the sprinters is expected to take place in the finishing kilometers of today's stage 2 of the Vuelta. The beaches near Orihuela are going to witness the likes of Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and Alessandro Petacchi being challenged by up-and-coming Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel, while declining sprint champions Tom Boonen and Daniele Bennati will try to bounce back prior to the 2011 World Road Cycling Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark taking place on the 25th of September.

Roadcycling.com offer our readers a look at the major sprinters who are part of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana peloton.

Mark Cavendish, 26 years old, Team HTC-HighRoad, 3 Vuelta stage wins so far:
The five-time stage winner in this year's Tour de France has made the 2011 World Championships his final goal of the season. He'll gear up in the Vuelta where he's previously won three stages and even the green jersey last year. He won the only race he's taken part in since the Tour de France: The Pre-Olympic test event in London just one week before the start of the 2011 Vuelta in Benidorm.

Tyler Farrar, 27, Team Garmin-Cervélo, 3 stage wins it the Vuelta so far:
American Farrar won stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de France in Redon. He's probably the next best sprinter in the world, but statistics prove him and his Garmin-Cervélo team less efficient than Cavendish's HTC-Highroad in the lead outs. Even though Farrar has raced a lot, he remains highly motivated for the final part of the season, including the Vuelta a Espana and the Worlds.

Alessandro Petacchi, 37, Team Lampre, an impressive 20 Vuelta stage wins so far:
While the Italian sprint star managed to beat Cavendish on one occasion in the 2011 Giro d'Italia at the stage 2 finish in Parma, he didn't secure any stage victories in this year's Tour de France. His best results were 2nd in stage 7 and 3rd in stage 15. He pulled out of the Vuelta a Espana last year as a consequence of a bad crash, but won the stage to Orihuela. Because Petacchi will not be part of the Italian National team in the 2011 World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, he is forced to focus on the Vuelta as the battleground where he must secure the victories that he is missing on his 2011 palmares list.

Tom Boonen, 30, Team QuickStep, 2 Vuelta stage wins:
His 2011 season is considered a success by Belgian fans because he won Ghent-Wevelgem in March, but the former world champion crowned in Madrid in 2005 is still seeking to return to the performance level of years past after Boonen suffered a crash in 2010. He was forced to pull out of the Tour de France last month because of a crash which occurred in the first week of racing. Boonen realizes he's no longer as fast as the leading trio of sprinters, but he remains able to beat them occasionally as he did in the 2011 Tour of Qatar in February.

Daniele Bennati, 31, Team Leopard-Trek, 4 stage wins at the Vuelta:
Because of a fractured collarbone as the result of a crash in this year's Tour de Romandie, Italian Bennati skipped the Giro d'Italia this year. The Vuelta a Espana will be his first Grand Tour this year and his sprints will be a major area of focus for the Leopard-Trek team in the absence of the Schleck brothers, while still trying to secure Jakob Fuglsang a spot on the final podium. Bennati's got five wins under his belt so far this year, but he's still eager to obtain at least one highly prestigious victory. He may also turn out to be appointed captain of the Italian national team in the 2011 World Road Cycling Championships in Copenhagen.

Peter Sagan, 21, Team Liquigas-Cannondale, 0 Vuelta a Espana stage victories so far (first participation):
The talented and successful Slovakian recently won the Tour of Poland. He's a sprinter who can shine in undulating terrain. The 2011 Vuelta will be his first appearance in a Grand Tour. He has won eleven races so far this year, but he hasn't had the occasion to challenge the world's best sprinters yet. This fact will make his participation in the Vuelta a very interesting one.

Marcel Kittel, 23, Team Skil-Shimano, 0 Vuelta a Espana stage victories so far (first participation):
The Vuelta invitation handed to Team Skil-Shimano is appearing to be a smart decision by the Spanish race organizers as it results in the first start in a Grand Tour for the young German prodigy, who is the next best performer of the year so far in terms of wins, only beaten by Philippe Gilbert. His victorious and successful campaign started in stage 3 of The Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia in January and continued with an impressive four victories in the Four Days of Dunkirk race. He recently managed to win four stages of a race again. This time he did it in the Tour of Poland. Therefore, he's clearly a rider to keep a close eye on in the Vuelta.

In addition to the above seven sprint stars, Vuelta fans will also get the chance to follow other strong sprinters such as Taylor Phinney (Team BMC Racing), Oscar Freire (Team Rabobank), Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Matthew Goss (Team HTC-HighRoad), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo), Christopher Sutton (Team Sky), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and 22 year old Juan-Jose Lobato (Andalucia-Caja Granada) in the Vuelta.

Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com and Roadcycling.mobi during the Vuelta a Espana for extensive coverage of the race including video highlights from all stages of the Tour of Spain 2011.

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