Remco Evenepoel will be flanked by Julian Alaphilippe as he targets victory at La Vuelta after being named in Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s team for the final Grand Tour of 2022.
The Belgian will be hoping to put pressure on three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who is expected to line up in Spain despite abandoning the Tour de France with injury.
Evenepoel has shown impressive form this season, having won Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour of Norway and Clasica San Sebastian.
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Meanwhile, Alaphilippe returns to the Wolfpack after missing the Tour de France. The Frenchman will target stage victories as he steps up his comeback from a big crash at Liege, which left him with multiple fractures and a collapsed lung.
“Remco and Julian will be the leaders of the squad for this last Grand Tour of the season, one comprising many hard stages, from the Basque Country ones to those in the high mountains,” said sports director Klaas Lodewyck.
“For Remco, this will be a whole new adventure. He doesn’t start as a favourite for the general classification, and we will just take it day by day and see how things go.
“Julian comes at the start after a tough season, but he has been working hard and will target some of the stages. The two of them have a strong supporting cast, the entire team is ready and motivated, and we look forward to the next couple of weeks.”
Remi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Fausto Masnada, Pieter Serry, Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke complete the eight-strong team. There is no place for Mark Cavendish, who is on the hunt for a new team for 2023.
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Speaking before the announcement on Friday, Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere said there was an unknown quality about Evenepoel – and that the 22-year-old has come in for unfair criticism.
"If he shows ambition, he is seen as arrogant. If he fails, he’s killed. In the long run, you keep that ambition to yourself," Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws.
"The first goal is to leave the Netherlands unscathed. A first evaluation will only be made after the Stage 10 time trial in Alicante. If he’s still in good shape, he can say: 'Now we're really going to go for it'."
Evenepoel made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d’Italia last year, fading badly after a bright start before leaving the race in the final week.
However, Lefevere insisted we will see a very different Evenepoel on his second Grand Tour outing, given he returned from a nine-month lay-off at the Giro following his horror crash at the 2020 Il Lombardia.
"It’s actually pointless to compare the Remco of the Giro with the Remco that will soon ride the Vuelta. He has become a completely different rider," Lefevere added.
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Stream La Vuelta live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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