For the final race of its far-reaching, six-week Portuguese race campaign, the team will return to the Volta ao Alentejo. The team brings a full arsenal of sprinters and leadout men to contest its crosswind laden, built-for-a-field-sprint stages. As long as the team’s fastmen can weather a nasty uphill finish in stage one, there will be four opportunities to conserve energy and form like voltron for the finish.
Stage One | Portalegre to Castelo de Vide | 143.7 km
Stage Two | Castelo de Vide to Mora | 152.5 km
Stage Three | Portel to Mértola | 189.6 km
Stage Four | Aljustrel to Vila Nova de St. André | 143.7 km
Stage Five | Alcácer do Sal to Reguengos de Monsaraz | 175.1 km
Volta ao Alentejo Roster
Performance Director Jonas Carney answers some questions about the race and what the team hopes to accomplish in its final race of the overseas campaign.
What can we expect from the courses in Alentejo?
Alentejo historically features multiple uphill finishes varying from uphill field sprints to climbs that cause splits in the field. The gaps tend to be pretty small and the GC is then mostly fought out with time bonuses between a handful of riders. The stages frequently have technical run ins where positioning is the key to getting a result. This year the first stage will be the most difficult and includes a tough uphill finish that will cause some splits in the field. From there the stages are easier and time bonuses will be the key to victory. However, there is a always a chance for crosswinds in Alentejo and the race can change dramatically if the wind picks up on the right day.
What about the teams?
The start list features all of Portugal’s best teams. The rest of the field is made up mostly of foreign continental teams and national teams. This level of racing in Europe (.2) is almost always very aggressive and difficult to control. It makes for very exciting racing where the speed is high from start to finish.
What are the team’s goals for the race? Stages and/or jerseys?
Unlike the roster we sent to the Volta ao Algarve, the roster we have at Alentejo is heavy on sprinters and leadout guys. If we can survive the first stage without losing much time, we can contest the overall due to the time bonuses, as we have very fast sprinters, a strong leadout, and a good team for the crosswinds. If stage one is too difficult for our sprinters, we will need change our focus and hunt for stages and/or the sprint jersey, while looking for an opportunity to take advantage of the wind.
Are there any teams or athletes in particular that you guys will be marking or looking our for?
It’s always important to keep an eye on the strongest Portuguese teams… like Radio Popular, LA Aluminios, Efapel, and W52. Of the foreign teams, the Axeon team will be tough to beat. In my opinion, the three best sprinters in Portugal are Filipe Cardoso from Efapel, Manuel Cardoso from Tavira, and Samuel Caldiera from W52. All three of these guys are fast, savvy riders and we will need to work hard to beat them.