Vuelta a Espana: Sergio Henao named as leader of strong Team Sky squad
Last Updated: 23/08/13 5:34pm
Sergio Henao will lead a Team Sky squad packed with climbing talent
Sergio Henao will lead Team Sky's challenge at the final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, which starts on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Colombian climber steps up into the role in the absence of Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins and super-domestique Richie Porte, and will be supported by Britain's Luke Rowe.
Henao also gets the nod ahead of compatriot Rigoberto Uran, who finished second at the Giro d'Italia in May but has since committed to leaving Team Sky for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step at the end of the season.
This year's brutally mountainous Vuelta includes 11 summit finishes and Henao's bid to rival the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez will be backed by a team packed with climbing talent.
Uran is likely to be his chief domestique, with Rowe, Dario Cataldo, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio and Xabier Zandio making up the remainder of the nine-man squad.
Henao said: "The Vuelta is a huge race for me and an important and prestigious event.
"It is an honour to be picked as the team leader and it is a responsibility that I want to try and fulfil. I respect what the team has asked of me and I want to try and make the most out of the opportunity.
Team Sky's Vuelta squad
- Dario Cataldo (Ita)
- Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
- Sergio Henao (Col)
- Vasil Kiryienka (Blr)
- Christian Knees (Ger)
- Salvatore Puccio (Ita)
- Luke Rowe (GB)
- Rigoberto Uran (Col)
- Xabier Zandio (Spa)
"The Vuelta is always a hard race and it is getting tougher every year. There are a lot of great riders targeting the race this season and the racing is going to be at a really high level."
Henao finished last year's Vuelta 14th overall, having earlier claimed ninth place in the general classification at the 2012 Giro.
'Squad for all eventualities'
He couldn't beat that at this year's Giro, finishing 16th, but is quickly emerging as one of the most promising young climbers in the professional peloton.
Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "It is a testament to the strength and depth in this team that we can line up in all three Grand Tours this year with such strong squads.
"We have watched Sergio develop since he joined the team and this is a great opportunity for him to demonstrate what he is capable of on a big stage like the Vuelta.
"We have selected a squad for all eventualities out on the road and we are excited to get started and to try to build on our success this season."