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Poels, Westra, De Gendt, Marczynski and Valls offer the team five potential GC riders while young Markus is set to make his grand tour debut and will lead the team in the sprints

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BARRY MARKUS

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JOHNNY HOOGERLAND

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JUAN ANTONIO FLECHA GIANNONI

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LIEUWE WESTRA

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RAFAEL VALLS

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TOMASZ MARCZYNSKI

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VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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16.08.2013 @ 09:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

With an uncertain future due to the lack of a main sponsor, Vacansoleil-DCM has selected its A team for the upcoming Vuelta. Wout Poels, Lieuwe Westra, Thomas De Gendt, Tomsaz Marczynski and Rafael Valls offer the team five potential GC contenders while young Barry Markus will make a belated grand tour debut and hopes to shine in the bunch sprints.

 

Vacansoleil desperately needs a new main sponsor and its riders have started to look for other teams long ago, some of them having already confirmed new contracts. However, the team insists on giving it one last shot at gaining attention in the Vuelta a Espana and so the team has decided to send its A team to the Spanish grand tour.

 

No less than 5 of the riders formed part of a mostly disappointing Tour de France squad and they will all travel to Spain to make amends. 3 of those are potential GC candidates and they join forces with 2 other climbers to form a five-pronged attack in the mountains.

 

Wout Poels crashed badly in the Tour de France last year and was left with a ruptured spleen and kidney, a bruised long and three broken ribs, staying in intensive care for a long time. He has gradually built himself back up to form and his first grand tour since the accident since to have served him well. He recently won the queen stage of the Tour de l'Ain, finishing 8th overall, and is now eager to make his return to the event in which he finished 17th in 2011.

 

Lieuwe Westra had red-circled the Tour de France as his major season target but a crash in the Dauphiné haunted him throughout the three weeks and ultimately illness knocked him out on the final stage to the Champs-Elysees. As a former runner-up in the Paris-Nice, he is no bad climber and he is an excellent time triallist. He is unlikely to target the GC on the mountainous course but hopes to make a great showing as he prepares to move to Astana for next season. He is currently building his form at the Eneco Tour.

 

Thomas De Gendt finished 3rd at the Giro d'Italia last year but has been a shadow of his former self all season. He had a hugely disappointing Tour de France but one stand-out ride in the first time trial where he finished 3rd. He is likely to go back to his specialty of targeting stage wins from early breaks but has to show better condition than he did in the Belgian time trial championships on Sunday where he finished far down in 18th.

 

Last year the team's Vuelta captain was Tomasz Marczynski and the Pole made a breakthrough performance by finishing 13th overall. This year he missed most of the early season and his debut Tour de France due to injury but he has finally recovered from his health issues and had a strong showing on home soil in the Tour de Pologne where he won his third consecutive mountains jersey. The Polish climber is likely to target a top 10 on GC.

 

The team's final potential GC rider is Rafael Valls. The young Spaniard was riding well at the Giro in May but a broken rib ultimately sent him far down the GC order. He hopes to make amends by finally performing well in a grand tour and is likely to target the GC. The Spaniard failed to finish the Tour de Pologne but initially showed good signs on the first mountain stage in the Italian Dolomites.

 

The surprise inclusion on the roster is young sprinter Barry Markus. Initially set to debut at the Giro, the young Dutchman was forced to stay at home due to injury. He turned heads back in February when he twice finished 2nd behind Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Qatar sprints. Since then he has had difficulty showing similar performances but recently finished on the podium twice in the Arctic Tour of Norway. He struggles on the climbs and so will find this year's mountainous course tough but he hopes to show off his skills in the few bunch kicks.

 

For the sprints on the tougher days, the team has Grega Bole who showed splendid condition with a recent stage win in the Tour de l'Ain. That win was taken in his trademark fashion by getting over a tough climb and finally outsprinting his remaining rivals. He hopes to take his first grand tour win on a course that should offer him quite a few options.

 

For the breakaways, Thomas De Gendt will join forces with two of the greatest specialists in the area, Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha. Both raced the Tour de France but despite their presence in escapes they failed to finish it off. They hopes to make up for that in Spain later this month. Hoogerland is currently racing the Eneco Tour while Flecha hasn't raced since the Clasica San Sebastian.

 

The Vuelta starts on August 24 with a team time trial in Galicia.

 

Vacansoleil for the Vuelta a Espana

Lieuwe Westra, Thomas De Gendt, Wout Poels, Tomasz Marczynski, Rafael Valls, Barry Markus, Grega Bole, Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha

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