Team Dimension Data are all set for their third appearance at Vuelta a Espana in Ourense on August 20.
Coming off a successful Tour de France, the team will arrive at the start with clear goals and a defending champion in the King of the Mountains competition.
Omar Fraile will lead the team into his home Grand Tour and will once again be eyeing the King of the Mountains title.
He won this classification 12 months ago and will start as one of the favourites for the blue-dotted white jersey.
Fraile, who also wore the KOM jersey at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, underlined his strong form at the Vuelta a Burgos a couple of days ago by winning the KOM competition.
Another strong climber who showed that he is in shape is fellow Basque Igor Anton. He ended the Vuelta a Burgos in ninth place overall and was the team’s best finisher.
Anton is a former Vuelta a Espana stage winner and also has two top-10 finishes.
Two riders who will try to feed off that experience are Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Merhawi Kudus.
The 2015 South African road race champion, Janse van Rensburg played a key role in the team’s recent success in the build-up races to the Vuelta and will be an important rider once the road gradient kicks in.
Kudus, from Eritrea, will start the fourth Grand Tour of his career and try to leave his mark on the tougher stages.
It is only logical that Australian Nathan Haas, who won stage four of the Vuelta a Burgos, will spearhead the team on the hilly stages that suit his profile.
He’ll be joined by another all-rounder in his quest for glory, current South African road race champion Jaco Venter.
Venter will share the role of being road captain in Spain with Tyler Farrar.
“I’m looking forward to be riding my third Vuelta. We have a strong team and we worked well together at the Vuelta a Burgos. It would be great to get the same at Vuelta,” said Venter.
Farrar, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours, will be the team’s conductor when it counts on the flat stages and he’ll try to pilot Kristian Sbaragli to another Vuelta a Espana stage win.
The Italian’s lead-out will be rounded out by young South African Nic Dougall, who will ride his first Grand Tour.
This year’s Vuelta route will offer seven flat stages, seven hilly stages, five mountain stages and two challenges against the clock, of which one is the opening team time-trial.