The five-day race (3-7 February) returns to the calendar following a 8-year hiatus.
Spain was good with Etixx – Quick-Step in this start of the season, as Gianluca Brambilla landed the squad's third victory of 2016 in Challenge Mallorca, a result in addition to which the team scored a handful of top 10 placings in the Balearic Islands. Now time has come for another event in the Iberian Peninsula, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – our first European stage race of the season – which puts on the table a significant amount of climbing very early in the year.
Volta a la Comunitat Valencia opens on Wednesday, February 3rd, with a 16.3 km-long individual time trial which is going to be held on a hilly course, before heading to the mountains just one day later, when the peloton will hit Alto de Fredes, an arduous first category ascent, with gradients ranging from 9% to 12%. The sprinters will be in the spotlight on Friday and Sunday, between these two days the climbers having another opportunity to take a victory and make their mark on the general classification, using the explosive Xorret de Cati (4 km, 22% maximum gradient) as a launch pad. The race will wrap-up with one last opportunity for the fast men of the peloton, in Valencia, on a 10-lap circuit.
The event will see three of Etixx – Quick-Step's riders kick-off their season: Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels, Daniel Martin (who's enjoyed successful stints in the past in Spain, at the Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta a España), and Tom Boonen, the 35-year-old Belgian returning to the races after his crash in the Abu Dhabi Tour, last October.
"We have a balanced and well-structured team for Valenciana. The first races of the year are a bit unpredictable and always different from the ones that come later in the season. The first day will schedule an individual time trial, and we are curious to see what Bob can do. For Dan it will be a good opportunity to gain confidence with his new team and test his condition following the winter training. As for Tom, we want to take it day by day, especially as he is coming back to competition after a significant amount of time. We will see how he feels without rushing things in any way" said Wilfried Peeters, one of the team's two sport directors at the race.
Also riding the 67th edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana for Etixx – Quick-Step will be Yves Lampaert, Gianni Meersman, Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Carlos Verona.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele