Team Sky are aiming to give Chris Froome the perfect start to the Vuelta a Espana by winning the team time trial on stage one of this year’s race, says directeur sportif Dario Cioni.
The 2013 yellow jersey winner makes his comeback after crashing out of this year’s Tour de France at the final Grand Tour of the season, which begins on Saturday.
While Cioni concedes Froome’s form will only be revealed once he goes head-to-head with his general classification rivals in the mountains, he says the team are determined to get the Brit’s Tour of Spain campaign off to the perfect start.
The man who will call the shots from the team car during the race told skysports.com: “With the team time trial straight away we have an opportunity to give Chris a head start.
“We’ve got a strong team here so why not aim to have a fast start and get a good result for the team? And a good result is going to be to try and win the stage.”
The 12.6km test in Jerez de la Frontera, however, is merely the beginning of what seems set to be a gruelling 21 days of racing to the finish in Santiago de Compostela, featuring eight summit finishes and two individual time trials.
And if Froome is to claim the leader's red jersey he will have to hold off the challenge of many of the world’s best general classification riders.
This year’s edition of the Vuelta is packed with star names, including the top three from this year’s Giro d’Italia, five-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and defending champion Chris Horner.
Giro winner Nairo Quintana begins the race as favourite but Cioni says Froome is motivated to take on the Colombian, should he be in competitive condition following his enforced lay off.
“If you look at the starting list and what climbers are here, there’s possibly more quality here than any other Grand Tour we’ve had this year,” he said.
“Chris pulling out of the Tour wasn’t the perfect way to get ready for the Vuelta but for sure he’s feeling good, he’s motivated and he has a strong team around him.
“Everyone is ready to go out for Chris and give him all their support. After the first half of the race we will know what our final goal will be but we are quite optimistic.
“Obviously you never know until you are out on the road against your opponents but after the down time he had, he’s been training really well the last couple of weeks and he has done everything he could do to be as ready as possible.
“Now we just need to see where he is on the first climbs and from then on we can assess what is possible.”
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