Date: Friday, 18 August 2017

Southland's Tom Scully has been confirmed as the fourth New Zealand starter for La Vuelta a Espana, the final Grand Tour of 2017.

The Cannondale-Drapac rider will join countrymen George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott) and Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sports) at La Vuelta, which begins with the team time trial in Nimes, France, on Saturday (Sunday NZT).

With Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran not selected, Cannondale-Drapac have opted against chasing for general classification honours. Instead their team will be focussed on hunting for stage wins.

"The average age in our team is 27 years. It's probably not the youngest team at the start, but I think we do bring the team with the most rookies," said sport director Juanma Garate.

"Not only do we have four riders racing their first Grand Tour, but we have another two riders who have only ever done one Grand Tour in their careers."

Scully is one of the four Cannondale-Drapac riders that will be making their Grand Tour debut in Spain, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist was clearly excited by the prospect.

"When I heard I was going to ride the Vuelta, at first I was excited, then I started to get a bit anxious, but now I am motivated that it's actually going to happen," the 27-year-old said.

"Just completing a race of this distance and duration will be valuable for me to grow as a rider. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in helping out the team and take any opportunities that might come up."

Gate, who rides for irish Pro-Continental team Aqua Blue Sports, will also be making his Grand Tour debut while Bennett and Bewley will be lining up at their fourth La Vuelta.

Story courtesy Stuff

 - Stuff

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