Spain will send a 10-member team to the UCI Road World Championships in Australia next month led by three-time world champion Oscar Freire, the coach announced Thursday. Spain, which heads the UCI world standings, can also count on 32-year-old Olympic Road Race champion Samuel Sanchez, the coach, Jose Luis de Santos, said in a statement.
Sanchez, who was injured in a crash in the final mountain stage of the Tour de France, skipped the Tour of Spain, which ends on Sunday. Freire, 34, who was World Road Race champion in 1999, 2001 and 2004, “will be the leader of this team,” Dos Santos said.
“The rest will be there to help him and they all have experience of the world championships” except for 26-year-old Imanol Erviti, who will be making his debut for his country in the event. Dos Santos admitted “it was not a easy selection” but said he had observed most of the selected riders during the Tour of Spain.
The coach announced earlier this month that reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador would skip the world championships this year in order to better prepare for next season. Last year’s Tour of Spain champion Alejandro Valverde will also miss the event as he is serving a two-year doping suspension. The UCI Road World Championships take place in Australia from September 29 to October 3.
Spain squad for UCI World Championships:
Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Garate, Imanol Erviti, Luis Leon Sanchez, Francisco Jose Ventoso, Samuel Sanchez, Carlos Barredo, Joaquim Rodriguez and Haimar Zubielda, with Ruben Plaza as first replacement.