2018 Tour de France winner, Geraint Thomas, will spearhead the INEOS Grenadiers eight-man line-up for this year’s Vuelta a España.
The race gets underway on Saturday 26 August in Barcelona, kicking off with a 14.8-kilometre team time trial before heading into the mountains, finishing on Sunday 17 September in Madrid.
Thomas, the highly experienced and hugely popular Welshman, who has already finished as runner-up at the Giro d’Italia this year, starts La Vuelta for only the second time, marking his 19th career Grand Tour.
He will be supported by a strong and experienced group of racers, including former Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner Egan Bernal. The inspirational Colombian played a key role for the Grenadiers at this year’s Tour de France, an incredible effort after his miraculous comeback from the major accident and potentially life-changing injury he sustained in 2022. This will be his second appearance at the Vuelta, having finished sixth overall in 2021, and his knowledge will be invaluable for the rest of the team.
Former World Time Trial Champion, Hour Record holder and gold medallist track star Filippo Ganna will make his La Vuelta debut. The Italian had a great start to the year with a successful Classics campaign, but his early season was cut short when he was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia with Covid-19. He’s roared back into form since, winning the Tour de Wallonie and then going on to claim medals at the recent World Championships in Scotland.
Dutchman Thymen Arensman was 6th at La Vuelta in 2022, which included claiming victory on the ‘Queen Stage’ atop Sierra Nevada. The hugely talented 23-year-old also finished an impressive 6th place overall at the Giro d’Italia this year, as a key member of the high-mountain support for Thomas. Belgian rider Laurens De Plus, who played a similar starring role for Thomas in May, will look to impress once again following his Giro d’Italia performance.
Spanish fans will be thrilled to see the climbing talents of six-time national time trial champion Jonathan Castroviejo slot in alongside Omar Fraile. The latter has won stages at both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France as well winning La Vuelta’s King of the Mountains titles in 2015 and 2016. The duo share 11 starts between them and will go all in for the team in their last race of 2023.
Exciting young German talent, Kim Heiduk, completes our selection and makes his Grand Tour debut in Spain. The highly promising 23-year-old will be looking to make his mark over the three weeks as he takes the next big step in his career.
INEOS Grenadiers line-up:
Thymen Arensman (23) - Netherlands
Egan Bernal (26) - Colombia
Jonathan Castroviejo (36) - Spain
Laurens De Plus (27) - Belgium
Omar Fraile (33) - Spain
Filippo Ganna (27) - Italy
Kim Heiduk (23) - Germany
Geraint Thomas (37) - Great Britain
“This is a very strong group of riders who are ready to take on this race. We start every Grand Tour hungry for the win, and I know every single rider is going to give everything for the team and each other. We have had some great results in 2023 and this group, along with the tremendous set of staff backing them up, will give their absolute best over three weeks of tough racing on some of the hardest parcours in cycling.
“We are going to start as we mean to go on and make our mark on the team time trial in Barcelona. It’s the base of our colleagues in the INEOS Britannia sailing team who we have collaborated with over the years, so competing for the win with them cheering us on is a huge motivation for us.
“Geraint has shown his form this season and proved the benefit of his many years of Grand Tour racing at the Giro d’Italia this year, and that will give him huge encouragement and motivation going into this race. His experience, insights and knowledge, cool head and leadership skills are going to come into their own in a race like this.
“And supporting Geraint, we have a group of riders with proven talent who are ready for three weeks of hard racing. Egan continues to inspire us all with his fight back to the top, and with Filippo, Laurens, Thymen, Omar and Jonathan, we have a team packed with race craft and ability across all types of terrain.
“And as for Kim, making his Grand Tour debut with the team, this is a real feather in his cap. He’s another one of our young and very talented riders who has really gone all in this season, and this is his opportunity to show what he can do over a three-week event at the highest level. It’s going to be a big challenge but one I know he will relish.”
“I’m really looking forward to going back to La Vuelta. Hopefully it’ll be better than 2015 - which was horrific - it wasn’t the most enjoyable Grand Tour that I’ve ever done!
“I’m going there to try and get the best result possible for the team. It will be nice to go for some stages and the GC as well, and just see how I’m doing after the first half of the race.
“It’s going to be a cracking field: Ayuso’s one of the leading young riders around at the moment; Remco as well, Roglic too and possibly Almeida, so that’s the whole podium of the Giro. Jonas is also apparently going so it’s going to be a star-studded line-up. That’s what motivates you as well, knowing that all the best guys are going to be there, so the goal is to go and do your best and hopefully come out on top; but it’s certainly going to be tough.
“The bigger the challenge the more excited you get and the more you want to put into it and try to do well. Having everyone there is going to make it a great race and the whole team we’ve got preparing for the Vuelta will get everyone up and motivated; we’re all looking forward to getting started.”
“I’m really happy to be selected for the Vuelta this year, I’m finishing off a good training block at home in Colombia and feeling super-motivated to get back out racing again.
“When I think back to the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure where I was going to be at this point in time; I dreamt of doing the Tour and the Vuelta, so this selection means a lot.
“As you all know, it’s a long comeback process and I’m just so happy my body has improved so much that I’m going to take to the start line of another great three week race this year.”
“I’m really happy to be starting my first Vuelta and look forward to making a big contribution to the success of the team.
“I’ve had a good year, but it was disappointing to have to abandon the Giro due to illness and that’s given me added motivation ahead of the final Grand Tour of the year.
“We have a very strong group, and a great core from the team that rode the Giro, so the spirit will be high, and we’ll be ready to give our best to be as successful as possible.
“The opening stage Team Time Trial presents a really big immediate opportunity for us, and I know that I will have a key role in us being successful, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge and having a great race.”
“Training has gone very well and I’m feeling very good, so I’m super-happy to be selected. For it to be my first year as a Grenadier and to do two Grand Tours is a real honour in this team. I’m really grateful for the confidence that the team has in me to be selected alongside the likes of Geraint and following on from a very successful Giro.
“I’m very motivated to take the experience from the Giro and try to convert G’s second place there into a first at this Vuelta. It’s going to be a really hard one as it’s a very stacked field, but we have full of confidence in the team. We’ll give our absolute best and enjoy racing our bikes in Spain as well as Andorra.”
Laurens De Plus:
“I’m just really happy with my Vuelta selection. It’ll be the first time in my career that I’m doing a double Giro-Vuelta so I'm really excited to see how my body will react to that.
“We had a nice Andorra build-up camp, then on to Poland where I was looking for some form and now a nice camp in Isola with G, so I think we’ll be ready for the Vuelta.
“It’s going to be really intense with a lot of GC days so I hope I can make a difference for our leaders to be as good as possible and give my full support in the mountains. I hope to have a good race and I’m already looking forward to that last lap in Madrid.”
“I’m really happy to be taking to the start line of the Vuelta this year, it’s been quite a few years since I raced it so I’m looking forward to heading back.
“It’s going to be great going there to help G, as leader of the team, get a good result. We’re taking a super competitive bunch of riders and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can get out and achieve.”
“The Vuelta is always a really special race for me as it was my first ever Grand Tour. This year will be my eighth start and I’m feeling really motivated especially with the team that we have going.
“We’re all feeling good and ready to line-up in Barcelona to take on what is going to be a high level of competition. This year’s edition has the best of the best going there, and you can feel everyone is really ready for it, it’s going to be a fun one for the fans to watch.”
“I’m super-happy to start my first Grand Tour - the Vuelta - with the team. Obviously, I’m really excited, very grateful to be selected and just really looking forward to the three weeks.
“I can only imagine how hard it’s going to be, but I’ll give everything and hope it will be a success for us. It means a huge amount to me to be in Barcelona, and especially with this team which has had so much success over the years.”