Remco Evenepoel and Philippe Gilbert will return to action at the five-day Italian race.

The second edition of Adriatica Ionica kicks off next week in Mestre, opening with a flat circuit suited to the sprinters, who will fight for the first leader’s jersey before a trip to Grado, peppered with six dirt road sectors that could have an important impact on the general classification.

Palmanova, the unique nine-sided star-shaped former medieval fortress, will be the start town of the queen stage, which will take the riders up the mythical Tre Cime di Lavaredo, expected to play a decisive role in shaping the overall classification. On Saturday, around Gorizia’s hills, the puncheurs will come to the fore as the peloton will travel to Cormons, with the sprinters set to return in the spotlight on the final day, in Trieste.

Winner of four stages at the inaugural edition, Deceuninck – Quick-Step will come to the start with a strong seven-man squad, comprising Remco Evenepoel, Paris-Roubaix champion Philippe Gilbert, Colombian speedster Alvaro Hodeg, neo-pro Mikkel Honoré, Davide Martinelli, James Knox and Florian Sénéchal, the last two making their first outing since retiring from the Giro d’Italia through injury.

“It’s my first stage race in Italy in more than a year and it will be a nice way to get back on track for the second part of the season. Some of my biggest career wins came in Italy and I’m happy to be racing there, help the team and see how my condition is”, Philippe said ahead of the five-day event taking place between 24-28 July.

Youngest ever rider to triumph at the Belgium Tour, neo-pro Remco Evenepoel is also looking forward to Adriatica Ionica Race, which he’ll start after an altitude training camp: “I am excited to get things underway, as it’s been quite some time since my last race. I come down from training in Livigno, and although I don’t know what my form will be, I go there motivated, and hopefully our team will get some nice results.”

“We have a strong line-up. Alvaro can be a protagonist on the first day, maybe even on the second one, depending on how the bunch will race it, Philippe carries a wealth of experience and his presence will be instrumental, while Remco and James will test their legs on Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It is a tough climb, so we’re not putting any pressure on them, we’ll just take it easy and see how things go”, said sports director Klaas Lodewyck.


Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen/ Getty Images

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