Written by Simon de Montfort of AnnoDomini
Welcome again to the magnificent Volta ao Porto. Lets look at the teams who joined this season and who will fight for the jerseys this time.
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Polish team with a young Polish leader Denis Halas. His surname translates to "noise" and he indeed whishes to make some noise in the fight for the YC jersey this edition.
Angelo Deferme will be the captain for Team Guy in this race. Strong climber with strong support, he will want to improve on his position from edition #40, when he finished 9th.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Among some of the exotic nations in this tour we have Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a team from Burkina Faso. This is a former Belarussian team which moved to Africa and brings an African-European squad lead by Leister October. The 24yo rider will try to fight for the YC, but is not the main favorite to wear the grey jersey at the end of the tour.
Conero Cycling Team
This Italian team has a lot of good riders on their squad. Their main GC rider will probably be a Swiss climber Rudolf Rennwald. The Swiss "Forest Gump" (Rennwald means literally "run forest" in German) finished 7th in 40th edition of Volta and looks good to finish in top 9 again. But the team has also a very strong young rider 22yo Birger Kleven, who could compete in YC. What will be manager's Gianluca tactics?
All Blacks come with Alexander Tony as their captain. Solid climber who had plenty of results in Season 50, but became quiet since then. Hopefully he and his team mates will present us with some aggresive riding this time.
Baatar Ariuntungalag won this race twice already - first time for Hog Bay CT at 21yo he claimed both GC and YC, second time already in SUD team last season. Can he defent the title having Rupert Bacilieri, the Volta veteran at 35yo, as his team mate? Think twice before you say he cant...
One of the most powerful squads in the tour. Their climbing TTer, Slovenian Rudi Basa knows the tour very well and was 5 times in top 4 in GC. Lincoln Hannity never rode in Volta before, but has a lot of experience and results in other tours and is in great shape now. No matter how team's manager Henri plans to play this out, all other teams should watch Ello Ello riders closely.
Raimundo Frota is the local guy who will try to get into top 9 GC. He failed twice finishing 11th. Nobody knows
why, as he is an experienced tour rider with plenty of results in Perm Tour and Norway Tour. One thing is sure - fans will cheer for him on every stage.
Ludo Tijs won this tour twice and was three times on podium. Now it is time for his younger cousin Calle Tijs to make the Tijs family happy. Calle is a very good climber with some TT skills and arrives to Portugal with 5 belgian team mates. They are good riders, but three of them have 103 years together, so they may struggle to keep a high pace in the mountains for their captain.
It feels like team Bilsky signed up with a B-squad for this race. With their main stars Augustin Hoffman and Josue Berlanga being unavailable, their captain will be Ian Selleslags, an experienced Belgian climber, but one who didnt have much success in his career. They may try to go stage hunting instead of fighting for the GC.
Stoosh brings on a super mighty squad with recent Ainet-Bruggen winner Durakovic, Gelu Petcu who once was 2nd in YC in this tour and Peder Sivertsen, who won 2 stages in edition #40 and finished 8th in GC. This team will dominate in the mountains and just needs some luck in the TT stages to get a great overall result.
Multinational team Sivac will be led by Cobus Pepping, an all-rounder whose best tour result so far was 9th place in GC in Vuelta a Valparaiso. Cobus tactics will be to try to not lose much time on any stage, while his team mates will hunt for breakaway results.
Ludo Tijs is here again. He is glad his younger cousin rides in the tour as well, but this does not mean Ludo will give him any handicap. 2 times as a winner and 3 times on podium, Ludo is once again ready to ride his favorite race and to be again on podium.
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Cycling and Kebab
Geoff Houston, a 32 yo sprinter from Australia, has won two races within the first 9 days of this season. He looks strong and his lead out train looks strong as well. If he remembers not to stop for a kebab along the way, he will be a strong contender to the SC classification win.
Romanian team will be lead by a German sprinter Bjorn Thorn. His last season wasnt good with only a couple of 7th places, so he is really motivated to get some results this season. He has strong lead outs and should be able to get a podium on one of the sprinting stages.
Hadden Hooser was disovered by Skeel team as a teenager and was riding with them ever since. He
is a decent sprinter, but he was usually a lead out sprinter working for others. Now at 31yo he will have a chance to lead his team in a tour for the first time. We wish him good luck - he will need it as the competition is very strong.
A team which recently joined Division 2 has Ralf Huijbregs as their sprinting captain. This is a first div 2 tour for the 32yo rider and believe it or not, he is the youngest rider in this team. His team mates average age is 38,4. It will be interesting how such leadout train will cope against much younger competitors.
Jorn Dijksma is the 25yo sprinter who will try to win something for Stroopwafel. He is a two times U23 World Champ, a kind of an all-rounder sprinter, so he may as well perform a surprise attack on a non-flat stages.
Pelles Gazelles bring on Gottfried Schuhmacher - the clear favorite for the SC. He is still very young, but is one of the strongest sprinters in the world currently, so one to fear for sure, especially with such a strong lead out support.
Mark Pro Team
Current Hong Kong champion Chu Shen will lead the all-Asian Mark Pro Team squad. 2nd place in Nederlandse Tour showed he is a strong sprinter and may be the one who Gottfired Shuhmacher should fear the most in the sprints.
German team is lead by German sprinter Paul Roland. Another German sprinter in the Tour, he showed he can win sprint stages in tours previously (stage wins in Vuelta a Valparaiso and Volta da Lagoa dos Patos), but here the competition is very strong, so he will have to fight hard to get another stage win in his palmares.
The last team to fight for the SC is Latvian team Zakisu Pirtina with their sprinter Samuel Johnsrud. It will be the first Division 2 tour for the 28yo Norwegian, who raced in lower divisions previously. He has three TTers in his leadout train, so the team will also want to grab a result in the time trial stages.
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With three TTers on the squad, Australian Temora Tornadoes will target results on stages 5 & 9. On the remaining stages they will probably try a breakaway.
With a mix of TTers (Geert, Chengoth), Climbers (Chengoth, Lew) and Sprinters (Antero), Cremtec has lots of options in terms of tactics. Their best chance in GC is probably Chengoth, but they may as well focus on getting some top 9 in every stage with different riders, not necessarily focusing on GC.