Vuelta a España: Trek-Segafredo bringing top stage-hunters

Mads Pedersen and Juan Pedro López headline Vuelta squad focused on stages without forgetting the GC.

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Trek-Segafredo is bringing a squad full of stage-hunters for the Vuelta a España.

Anchored by Mads Pedersen and Juan Pedro López, the U.S.-registered team is intent on winning at least one stage during the season’s third grand tour running August 19 to September 11.

Pedersen will make his Vuelta debut while López will be racing to confirm his breakout Giro d’Italia, where he was 10th overall and won the best young rider’s jersey.

“First and foremost, we want to win a stage. That’s our priority,” said lead sport director Stephen De Jongh. “I think with Mads and the guys who will join him on the squad for the leadout … we have a good team more than capable of achieving that. Then, on the other hand, we have a strong climbers group with Juanpe free to race for the general classification. After a good Giro, I am looking forward to seeing what he can do, I think he has a good chance to do a nice result here, too.”

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The pair will be joined on the start line by Alex Kirsch, Antonio Tiberi, Dario Cataldo, Daan Hoole, Julien Bernard, and Kenny Elissonde.

Pedersen, who won his first Tour stage in July, will race the European championships this weekend before heading to the Vuelta for the first time. He said there are up to eight stages that fit his rider profile, enough to entice him to line up.

“I’m really looking forward to doing my first Vuelta. I had a strong Tour de France and came out of it with a really good feeling,” Pedersen said. “I’ll give it a go and see how it works out. For sure, it’s going to be hot, and in the past, I struggled a bit with that, but after the Tour we saw that the heat adaptation work that I’ve done helped a lot, so I’m not too worried about the heat.

“We feel confident in this decision, and we have a strong, well-rounded team going to the Vuelta,” he said. “I think we can be in the mix of everything: sprint days, medium sprint days and climbing days. It should be a good three weeks and I think it will be a good experience to have two grand tours in one year. We will see how my body reacts and maybe it is something we think about for the future as well.”

All eyes, at least among Spanish fans, will be on López.

The 25-year-old lit up the Giro, and wore the pink jersey for 10 days in the middle of the race. López revealed he’s coming off a recent bout with COVID-19, but expressed cautious optimism he can build on his Giro success.

“We are ready for every stage, and I am super happy to be a part of this team. I have big ambitions this year for the Vuelta,” López said. “My first objective at the Giro was to win one stage and I just missed that, so I want to try and achieve that here, for sure. I also want to do a good GC but that will be something that we will take day by day. I didn’t have the best of luck after the Giro as I caught COVID and I wasn’t at 100 percent in Burgos, but I do believe that I will arrive in the Netherlands in good shape and ready to put in a good performance.”

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