Chaves & Mitchelton-SCOTT looking to maximise opportunities at the Vuelta a España

Thu 15 Oct 2020

Mitchelton-SCOTT has named a diverse team for this year’s Vuelta a España, looking to maximise their opportunities with a mix of potential for overall and stage success in the team line-up.

Former podium finisher Esteban Chaves will lead the squad’s pursuit for overall success, whilst experienced 36-year-old Grand Tour stage winner Mikel Nieve plus recent Coppa Sabatini winner Dion Smith provide the Australian outfit with options for stage victories.

Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Vuelta a España (20th Oct – 8th Nov 2020):
Esteban Chaves - (COL, 30) 6th appearance
Alexander Edmondson - (AUS, 26) 2nd appearance
Tsgabu Grmay - (ETH, 29) 4th appearance
Mikel Nieve - (SPA, 36)  8th appearance
Dion Smith - (NZL, 27) 2nd appearance
Nick Schultz - (AUS, 26) 4th appearance
Callum Scotson - (AUS, 24) Grand Tour debutant
Robert Stannard - (AUS, 22) Grand Tour debutant

The remainder of the team is comprised of motivated young talent in Australians Callum Scotson and Robert Stannard, who will both make their Grand Tour debuts. Meanwhile, compatriots Alex Edmondson, Nick Schultz and Ethiopia’s Tsgabu Grmay return to the Spanish tour with previous Grand Tour experience under their belts.

The Course
The 2020 Vuelta a España will be shorter than the traditional Grand Tour distance of 21 stages and will instead cover 18 stages, after the start location was modified from Holland to Spain, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The third and final Grand Tour of the year will travel a total of 2882.2 kilometres and includes one individual time trial stage, four flat stages, five hilly stages, eight mountain stages (including four special category climbs) and two rest days.

The race is noticeably suited to the climbers, with a total of 47 categorised climbs, starting immediately on the opening stage before the first real mountain test on day six, ahead of the first rest day, when the race enters France and heads up the iconic Col du Tourmalet.

The second week features the most climbing with three hard mountain tests, including the brutally steep Alto de l’Angliru on stage 12, followed by one final test on the penultimate stage up the Alto de La Covatilla.

Race History
Over the past eight years, Mitchelton-SCOTT has finished in the top-10 on the general classification on four occasions at the Vuelta a Espana.

This includes an overall race victory thanks to Simon Yates in 2018, the Australian outfit’s first Grand Tour victory, and one other podium finish in 2016 with Chaves in third place. The other two top-10 placings were fifth place from Chaves in 2015 and 10th place from Nieve in 2019.

Along with overall success, the team has also enjoyed 12 stage victories from eight different riders, the most being four stage victories from four different riders at the 2016 edition of the race.

Esteban Chaves – 3rd place in 2016
I'm very happy to do the Vuelta this year, it’s one race that I have a lot of appreciation for, I really like to do this race and enjoy it. This year, because of the timing of the race and the circumstances, like everything I feel a bit weird, but I feel like I am arriving in good condition especially after the Tour and world championships.

Sometimes you finish a Grand Tour and don’t really feel good and you are super tired but this time after the Tour it was not the case. I could continue along the general line that I am doing this year and if everything continues like this, then the Vuelta will be no exception. 

“We will race hard from the beginning; it is really hilly and if you have good legs then you need to be aggressive and take any chances from the start.

“It will be a cold Vuelta too, so we need to be ready for that and everyone knows that. It’s all in the North and it will be weird on the days that it doesn’t rain.

I like when we have young riders in the team, they remind me of myself at my first ever Vuelta six-years ago.We obviously have a lot of motivation, excitement and will ride with hunger. In that company and with the experience of Mikel and myself, it is a good combination.”

Julian Dean – Sport Director:
“We are throwing the net wide in terms of looking for all possibilities in this year’s Vuelta.

“Esteban was good towards the end of the Tour de France and said he came out feeling really good, so it will be exciting to see him race and back at the level he was at a couple of years ago. It will be a great opportunity for him because he is healthy, he hasn’t had any crashes or illnesses and can go into the Vuelta looking to make the most of the opportunity to go for a good result overall.

“Mikel has returned from his crash at the Tour, his progress back has been good, he might need a little bit of time to ride into it but obviously he has won stages at Grand Tours before, so certainly, as we get further into the race, we will be looking to give him opportunities for a stage win.

“Dion Smith is another rider that we will look to provide opportunities for. He has had a cracker season and picked up some great results and a win and deserves to have our full support to go for some of the stages more suited to him.

“This year you’re going to have to be really competitive early on if you’re coming to the race looking for a podium or high GC result. There’s the Tourmalet on stage six and already a couple of hilltop finishes before that.

“It is a hard edition and clearly one of the big challenges we are going to face is the weather with the race being all in the North of Spain at this time of year, particularly some of the stages up in Asturias and the stage up to l’Angliru.

“In general, we will be looking to maximise the opportunities with the potential we’ve got in our team line-up. We’ve got some young blood in the team with Scotson and Stannard who will hopefully be the future of our team, and so it will be good to help them get through their first ever Grand Tour.”

Mitchelton-SCOTT – Vuelta a España Team Stats:
Youngest rider: Robert Stannard (22)
Oldest rider: Mikel Nieve (36)
Average Age: 27.5
Vuelta a España debutants: Callum Scotson and Robert Stannard (Grand Tour debut)
Most Vuelta appearances: Mikel Nieve (8)
Total Vuelta appearances: (26)