Team Sky‘s sports director Nico Portal has confirmed that, as expected, Chris Froome will be leading the team in the Volta a Catalunya, whilst the British squad will have Geraint Thomas and Wout Poels, two of their strongest riders of the first part of the 2016 season as other options for the week-long stage race.
Team Sky won the Volta a Catalunya last year with Richie Porte, whilst Froome, coming back from illness, turned in a much more uneven performance, losing nearly 30 minutes on one mountain stage.
This year, although Porte – the WorldTour leader for much of last spring – has moved on to BMC, Sky have had a very strong start to the season. A large part of that was due to Froome when he won his first race of the season, the Herald Sun Tour in early February, and Sky, with Froome and Pete Kennaugh dominated the Australian event from beginning to end.
But as Portal points out, that was over a month ago. Since then Froome has been putting in some solid training blocks, but although he has been going well outside racing, exactly how Froome will measure up in Catalunya, his first European and first WorldTour race of the season against a very strong field “is an incognito for now.” At the same time, Poels won in the Volta a Valencia, that was as long ago as Froome’s win in Australia, whilst Geraint Thomas has just won Paris-Nice, beating Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) for a second time this season – but had a crash late on in Milano-Sanremo.
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Speaking to Cyclingnews on the eve of the Volta a Catalunya, Portal had yet to reach the team hotel in Catalonia and talk with Thomas, but he says initial reports are that the Welshman is in good shape despite the crash. “Tomorrow” – in a hilly opening stage where the race has broken up in the past – “we’ll have a better idea.”
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