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Mar 20, 2016 – Chris Froome will be hoping to come out on top of a star-studded line up at the Volta a Catalunya (March 21-27) this week as he makes his 2016 European debut.
Team Sky/Yuzuru Sunada
A mouthwatering week of racing is on the cards as cycling’s world stars come together on the roads of northern Spain in preparation for the upcoming Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Froome returns to competitive action for the first time since he sealed the Herald Sun Tour title at the start of February and will lead our team in northern Spain.
He’ll be ably supported by a strong selection of climbers, including Wout Poels and Geraint Thomas, who have both enjoyed impressive stage-race victories of their own this season, at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, plus Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice respectively.
Ian Boswell, Nicolas Roche and Mikel Nieve will also be crucial in the mountains, while Vasil Kiryienka will play a vital role on the flats. Fresh off a superb runner-up finish at Milan-San Remo, Ben Swift will do battle with the sprinters on the race’s less mountainous days.
Riders to watch
Richie Porte (BMC) will be keen to retain the title he won in a Team Sky jersey last season, while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) will be hurting after his second place at Paris-Nice and will want to bounce back quickly. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) joins Froome in making his 2016 European debut and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) goes in search of his third Catalunya title.
There only looks like being one clear chance for the sprinters, on day six, and there are no time trials – make no mistake, this is a climber’s race. Time bonuses have proved to be crucial in recent years and that could make for exciting racing in Catalunya, particularly on the final day – just as it did at Paris-Nice.
Stage four. With more than 50km of climbing in store and a punishing summit finish, the peloton will be pushed to its limits on what is clearly the race’s toughest day. The finish at Port Ainé comes after an 18.9km climb at 6.3% and that’s preceded by ascents of the brutal Port del Canto and Alt d’Enviny. Whoever wins will put themselves in a strong position heading into the second half of the week.