Team HTC-Columbia has confirmed its line-up for the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, and British sprinter Mark Cavendish is heading up the US-based squad’s aim for stage wins.

Cavendish is riding in his first Vuelta a Espana, and comes to the race having won five stage of the Tour de France in July. The Manxman will be hunting for stage victories, and honing his form for the World Championships in late September.

“Our first goal is to get an early stage win with Mark, and then we will see how it goes from there,” said HTC-Columbia sports director Tristan Hoffman.

“[Cavendish is] in really good shape and very focussed, to the point that he didn’t do any criteriums after the Tour de France. He’s going to the Vuelta for the first time and he’s taking it very seriously.

“He knows there’s a lot of climbing but he did really well in the mountains in the Tour de France and he will be looking to race as strongly in September as he did in July.”

With clear contender for the overall win, Kanstantsin Sivtsov and Peter Velits are the team’s pick for individual mountain stages – the race features several key summit finishes, including the decisive penultimate stage to Bola del Mundo.

“Kanstantsin and Peter will pick a good day on the climbs and we’ll try and take as many wins as possible there too,” said Hoffman.

The squad has also selected young US talent Tejay Van Garderen, making his first appearance at a grand tour. The 22 year old was second in the 2010 Criterium du Dauphine prologue and went on to place third overall.

“Tejay [Van Garderen] is keen to see what he can do in his first major Tour,” said Hoffman. “Although he’s young and there’ll be no pressure on him.”

The 2010 Vuelta a Espana starts on Saturday, August 28, in Seville and concludes in Madrid on Sunday, September 19. HTC-Columbia rank as one of the favourites to take the opening team time trial and put a rider in the gold leader’s jersey.

HTC-Columbia team: Vuelta a Espana 2010

Lars Bak (Den)

Mark Cavendish (GB)

Bernhard Eisel (Aut)

Matt Goss (Aus)

Hayden Roulston (NZ)

Konstantsin Sivtsov (Byl)

Tejay Van Garderen (USA)

Martin Velits (Svk)

Peter Velits (Svk)

Related links



Vuelta a Espana 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



Cavendish challenged to win Worlds rainbow jersey



Brits in the Tours, from Robinson to Cavendish