Fabio Aru aims to 'repay support' by leading UAE Team Emirates to Vuelta a Espana glory
Italian joined by Martin, Conti, Consonni, Ravasi, Petlli, Bystrom and Laengen for the final Grand Tour of the season
Italian rider Fabio Aru says he has "great motivation" to succeed at the Vuelta a Espana after being named leader of UAE Team Emirates for the upcoming race.
Starting on Saturday and concluding on September 16, the 2018 Vuelta will comprise 22 teams racing for 3,271.4 kilometres across 21 stages.
Led by 2015 Vuelta champion Aru, UAE Team Emirates will be aiming to build on their impressive showing at the Tour de France and have named a strong eight-man team for the third and final Grand Tour of the UCI World Tour schedule.
Joining Aru will be Irishman Dan Martin, weeks after his successful Tour de France campaign. Martin, 32, was named the Tour's most combative rider, claimed one stage victory and finished eighth in the general classification standings.
Italian quartet Valerio Conti, Simone Consonni, Edward Ravasi and Simone Petlli, and Norwegian pair Sven Erik Bystrom and Vegard Stake Laengen - who was recently crowned National Road Race Champion - complete the line-up.
“I really like the Vuelta for many reasons: the route, the climbs and especially the fans who have always shown great affection towards me," said Aru, who will be one of four former Vuelta champions competing in this year's race.
"I approach it with great enthusiasm and a desire to do well. Also to repay the affection and support shown to me by the team, the sponsors and the fans since the Giro d’Italia.
"I arrive from the first part of the season in which I did not get the results I was looking for, but from the defeats you can learn important lessons and all this gives me great motivation."
The 2018 Vuelta will consist of two individual time trials (ITT) - including Saturday's opening stage - six mountain stages, six hilly stages, four flat stages, and three intermediate stages.
"It will be a tactically open Vuelta, the nine summit finishes will lend themselves to attacks," Aru, 28, added. "And I must beware of short stages, they will have a big impact on the general classification.
"The competition is spread wide and level; [Miguel Angel] Lopez, the Yates brothers [Simon and Adam], [Rigoberto] Uran and the captains of Movistar [Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde] … without forgetting that [2010 champion Vincenzo] Nibali is also making his race return.”
Similar to this year's Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta will open with an 8km ITT before heading straight into the mountains, with Stage 2 the first of nine summit finishes. Three of those finishes are new to this year's race and with temperatures expecting to exceed 30°C, are sure to provide testing conditions to the riders.
The first rest day will take place on September 3 before the route heads into a series of rolling hills and the longest stage of the race – the 208km Stage 11 route from Mombuey to Ribeira Sacra. Luintra.
After that, the riders face three consecutive summit finishes before the second rest day on September 10, which will be followed by the second ITT on Stage 16.
The Vuelta route will then head north as the riders make their way towards Andorra and a summit finish at Collada de La Gallina for Stage 20, arguably the toughest stage of the race with a climb of more than 1,000 metres over 13km.
The race then concludes with a final procession in the Spanish capital, Madrid, where the winner of the general classification will be crowned.
Updated: August 21, 2018 05:29 PM