Vuelta a España: Ayuso and Almeida lead UAE Team Emirates challenge

Two leaders confirmed as the team looks to take on Evenepoel and Jumbo-Visma in the final Grand Tour of 2023

Clock08:13, Tuesday 22nd August 2023
Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) in time trial mode

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) in time trial mode

UAE Team Emirates will head into the Vuelta a España (August 26-September 17) with two leaders as João Almeida and Juan Ayuso look to challenge for the overall. Ayuso finished third in last year's edition of the race, while Almeida finished fifth but then claimed third in the Giro d'Italia in May of this year.

The team finished second and third in the Tour de France this summer through Tadej Pogačar and Adam Yates, and will be hoping to replicate a similar result in Spain.

The two GC challengers will be backed by a strong climbing core, with Jay Vine, Marc Soler and Finn Fisher-Black - who is making his Grand Tour debut - forming the spine of the team.

UAE Team Emirates will also target the sprint stages through Juan Sebastián Molano, who recently won a stage in the Vuelta Burgos.

Read more: Juan Sebastián Molano takes first victory since March at the Vuelta a Burgos

"Last year's Vuelta was something special, a race I'll always remember and it gave me a lot of confidence," Ayuso said in a statement released by his team.

"We’ve been putting in a lot of work together the past months as a group and it’s gone really well. The route this year will be passing close to places where I grew up or lived, so personally that will make it extra special too. As for the competition it’s going to be tough no doubt with some big rivals on the startlist but I feel we’re up to the challenge. Going in like we did last year with two leaders worked out as an advantage so I think it’s a good strategy. We can’t wait to get the racing started."

Since his Giro d'Italia performance, Almeida has been fine-tuning his form with a batch of races throughout the summer. He recently finished second overall in the Tour de Pologne - just a second behind GC winner Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious).

“The sensations are good: I feel I’m stronger than I was this time last year. I think Juan has also improved so we’re in a really good place. Last year at the Vuelta was already quite a success for us so we’re going back to aim for the same or more. We had two guys on the podium at the Tour so why not at the Vuelta too? It could be really nice," Almeida said.

The final two Vuelta a España spots have gone to Portuguese twins Ivo and Rui Oliveira.

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all 21 stages of this year’s Vuelta a España from Saturday, August 26 to Sunday, September 17, plus daily expert analysis on The Breakaway. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action! As always, territory restrictions will apply.

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