Written by Simon de Montfort of AnnoDomini
Portuguese towns and roads are ready to welcome the colorful peloton once again in the Volta ao Porto tour. The 44th edition will feature 144 riders from 44 countries. The most represented countries include the home nation Portgual with 15 cyclists, we also have 11 Belgian riders, 10 from Netherlands and also 10 from Australia. Lets take a quick look at each team captains to see which riders are the main favorites to wear the jerseys in Porto after 10 stages of racing.
GC & YC candidates
The only Polish team in the tour brings a couple of home grown talents captained by last year’s YC winner Denis Halas. This climbing TTer has all the skills needed to finish high in the GC, but the competition is strong and he needs a flawless ride to achieve his goals.
Manager Christian confirmed in the press conference that his team is not targetting GC win this season. Their leader will be Orjan Nyhus, a young climber who will gather experience in the big tour and hope for a top 9 finishes in the mountain stages.
Bastian Jacobsson will lead the team Help. He is the YC winner from edition 37 and in his team he has a multiple podium finisher Vincent Currie. As the team name suggests, the duo is expected to help each other to achieve a decent GC result.
Dmitry Salko missed out last edition due to injury, but he is now back and is very motivated to give Matrix Team a win in GC. The race profile suits him very well and he just needs some luck to stay out of troubles and avoid crashes to achieve his goal.
A 23yo Belgian rider Kristiaan Jannis is looking to grab a result in YC for De Stamper team. The team tried Calle Tijs last season and it wasnt a bad choice, as he finished 8th overall, but this time Calle will be there to help Kristiann finish as high as possible in the YC.
The leader of Logoloos is Owen Ottens – a strong climber who finished 3rd in Ainet-Bruggen classic a couple of days ago. However he lacks TT skills, so he will not play the main role in the GC contest and will rather target stage results in the mountains.
Bud Castleberry is an experienced tour rider. He finished 4th in Vuelta a Valparaiso and 3rd in Copa de la Historia de los Andes and was close to wear a YC jersey in Perm tour. However the Portugeese tour is much longer than those just mentioned and features more
time trial stages, which does not play to Bud’s advantage.
Cobus Pepping will lead team Sivac again in this tour. He did surprisingly well last season finishing 7th in GC. Improving on this position will be very difficult, but any top 9 finish should be satisfying to him.
The Slovakian team has climbed up the rankings and recently joined div 2 so this is the first Volta for them. Their main target will be to fight for the YC with their new star Gusto Drozd. Gusto is a strong climber, but will have to produce something extra on the TT stages to keep up with the favorites.
Conero Cycling Team
Another team wanting to grab the grey jersey for the best young rider. Birger Kleven was close last season finishing 2nd in YC, now he would like to finish one step higher. However as we already know there are a few very strong young riders so the task is not easy.
The NZ team has two options: they can go with Alexander Tony for the GC (he finished 5th last season) or fight for YC with Jerry Tuimavave, who finished 4th in Ainet-Bruggen this season and is in perfect shape. No matter which route they decide to go, they are a team to look out for.
Naturally, Baatar is here again. I asked him about the tour and this is what he said: Baatar here to win. Baatar confident. Baatar not afraid of anyone. Baatar go now talk to spirits. Spirits give Baatar power.
One of few men who can stop Baatar is Rudi Basa. 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 4th. Those are his GC placings in last seasons. Can he finisz 1st for the first time? He is 34yo already, so if not now then never!
Last team joining the tour is Nikoline with Vaneli Kadu as their hope for the YC. Strong allrounder will join the pretty big group of young riders wanting the grey jersey this season. It is difficult to tell who will win it in the end.
Teodor Sandberg will lead the Swedish team CK Hymer. He is a strong sprinter, but has a problem with number 5. In the last 4 appearences he finisehd 5th in SC. What place will he finish this time, considering this is his 5th Volta?
The best Portugeese team will compete for SC with Alipio Almada as their sprinter. He was 4th once in the past, will definitely want to improve this time in front of his home crowd. 2nd target
for the team will be a TT result for Hermano Montenegro.
Gijs van Dop is a young sprinter who will lead The Ullrichs team in this tour. We dont have much info on that rider, we just hope he will ride clean and that we wont need to add „e” letter to his surname after the blood samples are tested.
Last season Korstanje had Ralf Huijbregs as their sprinting captain, who was supported by a group of nearly 40yo lead outs. He finished only 8th in SC, so they fired him and now arrive with their home trained Dane Carsten Agard. But the general approach didnt change and Carsten will be supported by a group of granddads. Will it work better this time?
Manager Einar has a strong sprinting squad which will be lead probably by a 23yo Casper van der Horst. He tested his legs in Phoenix GP this season and was 3rd, so he is looking to be in a decent shape. A side goal for the team is to grab a TT result for a guy with two names, but no surname - Leonard Arnold.
Their sprinter is 27yo, comes from Faroe Islands and has a name hard to pronounce. Val (short for Valgar..something) never raced in this tour, so he would like to leave a good impression, however opponents are strong and his lead out train is not ideal.
The second Portugeese team in the tour will also fight for the SC. Candido Nascimento is the spritner for Vitoria FC and he is a strong contender for the jersey. His asset is that he probably knows his main rival Alipio Almada from the National Team very well. (But hey, this means that Alipio knows him also well, so this kind of evens out, dont you think?) Eh, never mind…
The team from Liechtenstein joined mainly to get a result in TT stages with Mugur Cernat. Other than that they will try to be part of every breakaway possible hoping that one of them arrives to the finish line before the peloton.
The Aussies come to the tour with 3 TTers and 3 climbing team mates. Their main goal will therefore be to grab results in the TT stages and then possibly get in a breakaway in one of the mountain stages.
The English team joins with a group of mediocre riders, out of which probably the best one is Kendrick Offutt. However it is unclear if the team will try to suport him in the fight for the GC or will they all just wait for opportunities to open up on some stages.