ProTeam Lotto Soudal aims for stage success at 101st Volta a Catalunya
On Monday the 21st of March, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of one of the oldest stage races within cycling, the Volta a Catalunya. The race is up to its 101st edition and won’t start – from the first time since 2011 – in Calella, but in Sant Feliu de Guíxols. During seven tough road stages, the climbers, puncheurs and strong sprinters will have their shot at the victory. Traditionally, the Volta a Catalunya ends with a closing stage in Barcelona including the famous Montjuïc climb.
For Thomas De Gendt it will be his tenth participation at the Spanish stage race, where the 35-year-old Lotto Soudal rider took no less than five stage victories in the past. Most recently, Thomas won the closing stage in Barcelona last year in a truly impressive way. Filippo Conca, Matthew Holmes and Viktor Verschaeve will have their first taste of racing on Catalan roads while Sylvain Moniquet and Harm Vanhoucke are again present in Catalunya following one or more participations.
Unfortunately, a bronchitis will keep Philippe Gilbert out of the Volta a Catalunya. The Belgian leader of Lotto Soudal was already suffering from it during Saturday’s Milan-Sanremo and overnight it got worse. “I knew it was going to be hard, but I really wanted to start in my final Milan-Sanremo”, said Gilbert. “I am very happy that I was able to finish, but the bronchitis made it a very difficult race for me. Overnight things got worse and right now I am in no condition to take the start of a hard stagerace like Volta a Catalunya. Together with the team we decided it is best to focus on my recovery and the other goals I still have this spring.”
Vanhoucke for the GC
Sports director Cherie Pridham talks about the line-up and ambitions of Lotto Soudal. “The Volta a Catalunya is a really tough stage race and this year is no different. It’s again a hilly course including two back-to-back summit finishes with La Molina on Wednesday and Boí Taüll on Thursday. We start this traditional stage race with our known mindset: animating the race and looking for opportunities in breakaways. We also have several strong riders who can support Harm Vanhoucke in his GC ambitions. With Thomas De Gendt we look for an early breakaway to have a shot at stage success. The riders are ready and motivated to make it a good seven days of racing!”
Stages Volta a Catalunya
Monday 21 March: Sant Feliu de Guíxols - Sant Feliu de Guíxols (171 km)
Tuesday 22 March: L’Escala – Perpignan (202.5 km)
Wednesday 23 March: Perpignan – La Molina (161 km)
Thursday 24 March: La Seu d’Urgell – Boí Taüll (166.5 km)
Friday 25 March: La Pobla de Seguir – Vilanova La Geltrú (206 km)
Saturday 26 March: Costa Daurada (Salou-Cambrils) - Costa Daurada (Salou-Cambrils) (167.5 km)
Sunday 27 March: Barcelona – Barcelona (138.5 km)