The 49th edition of the Volta ao Algarve, and the organisers have stuck with the tried and tested route. We should have two days for the sprinters, two GC days, and one ITT. One slight issue is the weather, it looks like being wet and windy for most of the race.
The opening stage of the race is a sprint in Lagos. We’ll see if anyone can get close to Fabio Jakobsen.
The usual finish at the top of Alto da Fóia. This a stage that normally ends in a sprint between the GC riders, and I don’t expect anything different this time round. One thing to note is the penultimate climb is different to last year.
Another chance for the sprinters, in what’s likely to be Jakobsen versus everyone else.
Stage 4 and it’s time for Alto do Malhão, a cracking little climb. Higuita won here last year and he’s back to see if he go back-to-back.
The race ends with a 24.4km ITT, it’s like the 2021 route, where Kasper Asgreen took the win. This year we’ll have Ganna and Küng fighting him for the win, but can they also take the GC crown?
Thymen Arensman – he had a good debut for Ineos in Valenciana, and this should be his first target of the season. Arensman has the punch required to challenge for the win in the two GC days, but it’s the TT that should give him a big chance of winning the GC. The Dutch rider is brilliant in this discipline and moving to Ineos will only make him better. Ineos have multiple options for the win, but I think he’s their best shot.
Dani Martínez – 3rd here last year, it’s a route that suits him well. His start to the season hasn’t been great but he should be nearing top form. With multiple leaders, we’ll have to see what role he’ll fulfil.
Filippo Ganna – was climbing very well in San Juan, but the climbs in the Algarve are different. The problem for Ganna is the steepness, it won’t be easy for him to haul his larger frame up these hills at the same speed as the climbers. He’ll hope to limit his loses, so he’s still in with a chance if he nails the TT, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can.
João Almeida – he’d love to win his home race, and it does suit him well. Almeida has the kick required to challenge for the win in the two uphill finishes, and he’s also someone who goes well in the TT. However, his TT level in 2022 wasn’t close to his usual standard. To win this race he needs to be at his best against the clock.
Ilan Van Wilder – he’s very good on his TT bike, and he’s got the climbing ability to be up there in the GC days. The Belgian had a decent 2022, but he suffered a lot of bad luck in terms of injuries and illness. He’ll see this race as a big chance to show his bosses just what he’s capable of, he should be challenging for the podium.
Tobias Foss – pulled off the surprise of 2022 by winning the TT world championship. This year will be a big one for the Norwegian, he needs to back that win up and it’s also contract year. Last year he was unfortunate to lose time on Fóia, he crashed in the final kilometre but there was no 3km rule. He then went on to lose more time on Malhão, he can’t let that happen this year, if he wants to challenge for the overall win.
Kasper Asgreen – I doubt he’ll be climbing well enough to challenge for the win.
Rui Costa – his TT means he won’t finish on the podium, but he should be up there in the two GC days.
Sergio Higuita – could win both GC days, his sprint finish is hard for any of the climbers to compete with. Even with 20s bonus, his TT isn’t good enough to hang on for the win.
Jai Hindley – same as above, his TT isn’t good enough to challenge for the podium.
Bauke Mollema – the TT will help him deliver a good GC result, probably between 5th and 10th.
I liked what I saw in Valenciana, I’ll take a win for Thymen Arensman.
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