André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) will have a couple of opportunities for stage wins this week at the Volta ao Algarve. However, the German rider will face stiff competition from the likes of Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step Floors), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
Greipel has already tasted success this season, winning the Trofeo Porreres, Felanitx, Ses Salines, Campos (1.1) in Mallorca last month.
Tomorrow’s opening 182.9-kilometre stage of the race from Albufeira to Lagos is flat and should end in a bunch sprint and the fast men will also have an opportunity on Saturday’s 203.4-kilometre stage from Almodovar to Tavira.
Thursday’s second stage is an opportunity for climbers and GC riders. The first half of the stage runs over flat roads, but afterwards it goes uphill, starting with a third category climb. In the last 25 kilometres the riders face a second category climb and the stage finishes on the Alto da Foia (first category).
On Friday, the riders will take on an 18-kilometre time-trial at Sagres and on the last day another tough stage lies ahead of the riders. In the finale they need to climb the Alto do Malhão (second category) twice and the climb has gradients over 9%.
Herman Frison – Lotto Soudal DS: “We can count on André Greipel for the two sprint stages at the Volta ao Algarve. There will be some strong opponents like John Degenkolb, Fernando Gaviria and Dylan Groenewegen. Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin are the riders that need to set a good result in the two tougher stages, on Thursday and Sunday. Tony Gallopin was very strong at Etoile de Bessèges where he won the time trial and finished second on GC. We know the Alto do Malhão, which has to be climbed twice on the last day, from previous years. That climb is not very long, but it is steep. The time gaps are often small at this race. That’s why the time trial will also be crucial, just like the bonus seconds. The course of the time trial should suit Tony, there are many long straight parts. There will be stronger and more opponents than in Bessèges, but I expect Tony can set a good overall result.”
Lotto Soudal Line-up:
Stage 1 Wednesday 15 February: Albufeira – Lagos (182.9 km)
Stage 2 Thursday 16 February: Lagoa – Alto da Fóia (189.3 km)
Stage 3 Friday 17 February: Sagres – Sagres (18 km) (ITT)
Stage 4 Saturday 18 February: Almodôvar – Tavira (203.4 km)
Stage 5 Sunday 19 February: Loulé – Alto do Malhão (179.2 km)