The youngest rider in the last 15 years to podium at the Vuelta a España, Enric Mas is ready to make his debut this season.
Two flat stages in Lagos and Tavira, one rolling individual time trial held around Lagoa and two summit finishes (Alto da Foia – 6km, 7.3% and Alto do Malhão – 2.5km, 9.4%) are on the menu next week at the 45th Volta ao Algarve, the final European race of the month for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who so far this season has amassed eight victories with five different riders.
Volta ao Algarve will mark also the first outing of 2019 for Vuelta a España runner-up Enric Mas, who will return to the Portuguese event after two years. The 24-year-old Spaniard will be joined by powerhouse Tim Declercq, Fabio Jakobsen – who recently signed a two-year extension with the team – Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Davide Martinelli, Florian Sénéchal and Zdenek Stybar.
“For the flat stages we’ll look to Fabio, who can count on Yves, Davide and Florian to lead the sprint for him and Tim to keep the breakaway under control. In the ITT, we think Yves can get a good result, because it’s a course which should suit him, while Zdenek will get some freedom during the week. As for the general classification, our man will be Enric Mas. There’s no pressure on him, it’s his first race of the season and we want to see where he sits”, Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels – himself a former stage winner at the race – said.
Steels also added a note of thanks to the Portuguese Cycling Federation and the Algarve region: “We’d like to put on record our appreciation for the help and assistance that we have received with managing our logistics for both this race and our recent training camp in Algarve. The camp offered immeasurable help to both our riders and staff in preparing for the early part of the season, including Volta ao Algarve, a race that we have always enjoyed taking part in. We would like to express our particular gratitude to the Portuguese Federation and the management and staff of the excellent Agua hotels Vale da Lapa in Carvoeiro for their assistance and hospitality.”
At the previous Volta ao Algarve participations, Deceuninck – Quick-Step won the overall classification on three occasions (2008, 2013, 2014), as well as 13 stages with ten different riders.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images