David de la Cruz will lead Team Sky at the Vuelta a Espana in the absence of defending champion Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
The British squad are bidding to achieve a unique feat in completing the set of all three grand tours with three different riders in the same year, following Froome’s Giro D’Italia triumph and Thomas’s incredible victory at the Tour de France.
But the two Britons have opted to rest from the Vuelta a Espana, which begins on Saturday, and will take on the far less demanding Tour of Britain.
Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford was believed to be contemplating a team led by talented Colombian climber Egan Bernal until the 21-year-old crashed heavily in this month’s Clasica de San Sebastian, causing a minor bleed on the brain and requiring facial and dental surgery which ruled him out for several weeks.
De la Cruz, who joined Team Sky in January, led the Vuelta in 2016 after winning stage nine in a breakaway but eventually finished seventh overall.
“I do not know exactly where I will finish,” the Catalonian said this week.
“But I have trained and sacrificed to do well in the general classification. I have many ambitions and we will see how far we can go.”
Team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski, a key ally to Thomas and Froome at the Tour, will be Sky’s back-up plan after he showed his form in his home tour – the Tour de Pologne – earlier this month.