Aru to lead Astana challenge at Vuelta

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Former champion Fabio Aru will race the Vuelta a Espana this month after being confirmed as Astana's team leader for the final Grand Tour of the season.

Aru won the race two years ago to win his maiden, and to date only, Grand Tour title, but skipped the 2016 edition after battling in the Tour de France.

He was always expected to race in 2017 but his participation was in question after a knee injury forced him to miss the Giro d'Italia and once again focus on the Tour.

The Italian impressed in France as he won stage five, consistently challenged eventual winner Chris Froome and held the leader's jersey for two stages in the middle of the race.

He was unable to stop Froome claiming a fourth Tour win, though, and had to settle for fifth place in the general classification - a result that means he has now finished in the top five of all three Grand Tours.

And rather than rest following those exertions, the 27-year-old will be back in the saddle on August 19 when the Vuelta begins with a team time trial in Nimes.

Astana also confirmed that Aru will be supported by Miguel Angel Lopez, Luis Leon Sanchez and Pello Bilbao in the mountains, with the rest of the team still to be announced.