A young six-man team will take on the French stage race.

This month’s calendar is packed with races and will see our team try to increase its victory tally on several fronts – Classics, stage races and National Championships – before the big rendez-vous of the season, the Tour de France. But until then, the Wolfpack will make a return to the Hexagon for the 32nd edition of the Tour de l’Ain, which puts on the table a very demanding parcours.

Stage 1, taking place between Montréal-la-Cluse and Ceyzeria, is a rolling one and should come down to a mass gallop, but the up-and-down terrain in the closing kilometers could very well work in the favour of those hoping to give the sprinters the slip. Col de Montgriffon (12.5km, 4.1%), Col des Pezières (3.9km, 6.5%), Col de Cuvillat (3.4km, 7.4%), Côte de Giron (7.6km, 6.2%), and Col de Menthières (9.1km, 6.3%) will shake up the general classification one day later, before a final stage that will hit the climax on the daunting Grand Colombier, which averages 7.1% over 17.3 kilometers.

The revelation of last week’s Vuelta a Burgos, which he finished on the overall podium, João Almeida will be on the start line as part of a very young Deceuninck – Quick-Step team, which will also include Grand Tour stage winner Rémi Cavagna, Colombian speedster Alvaro Hodeg, lead-out man Bert Van Lerberghe and neo-pros Andrea Bagioli and Mauri Vansevenant, the 21-year-old Belgian who will make his debut for our squad.

“We are happy to be racing again, every race we do now after this long break is a bonus considering all that’s happening. Tour de l’Ain has short stages but a hard course and it will be a good opportunity to see João again in the mix; he had a very impressive ride at the Vuelta a Burgos last week and can now go for another strong result. The team comprises many young guys, but we are motivated and will try to make the most out of it as we always do”, explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Rik Van Slycke.

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