Lotto Belisol will line up for the Volta a Catalunya with Jurgen Van den Broeck as the team leader.
Last year the Lotto Belisol rider finished third. Jurgen stood on the podium next to winner Michael Albasini and Samuel Sanchez. This year there are again some strong sounding names at the start apart from Van den Broeck like Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez and Michele Scarponi. These last three riders won the Tour of Catalunya in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
None of the seven stages is flat. The third stage arrives on Vallter 2000 after a 12 kilometers long climb with an average gradient of 7.8%.
The day after it’s time for the longest stage, 217.7 kilometers long, with finish on Port Ainé. On the course five climbs are waiting for the riders with the last two climbs of the highest category, called the “special category”.
On the final day the peloton goes to Barcelona where the finish lies on the Alto de Montjuïc. In Barcelona 8 local laps will be ridden, in which each time the Montjuïc has to be climbed. In this Tour of Catalunya, there are definitely chances for Jurgen Van den Broeck to show himself and he can further build up his condition for his main goal: the Tour de France.
Jurgen Van den Broeck: “I am looking forward to the Tour of Catalunya because I performed well here last year. Apart from that stage races like this are important to collect WorldTour points. But I think I am ready for it. In the beginning of March I went two weeks to Tenerife to train. If you have to compete against riders that are stronger and live in countries where the weather is better, it is necessary that you escape the Belgian climate to become stronger yourself. The past few years that training camp in Tenerife pleased me a lot.”
“The season’s start was pretty okay. Now Catalunya, Pais Vasco and Romandy are coming up, three beautiful stage races. Then I take a break to build up further afterwards to the Tour. The stages look difficult and it is waiting to see what the weather conditions will be like. Last year those had a lot of influence on the development of the race. That third place in 2012 doesn’t guarantee me new success but it gives confidence, although this year there are a lot of strong riders at the start.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Brian Bulgaç, Francis De Greef, Adam Hansen, Olivier Kaisen, Jurgen Van de Walle, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Joost Van Leijen en Tim Wellens
Sports directors: Mario Aerts en Jean-Pierre Heynderickx
Stages Tour of Catalunya
Stage 1: Monday 18th of March : Calella – Calella ( 159, 3 km)
Stage 2 : Tuesday 19th of March : Girona – Banyoles (160,7 km)
Stage 3: Wednesday 20th of March: Vidreres – Vallter 2000-Setcases (180,1 km)
Stage 4: Thursday 21st of March: Llanars-Vall de Camprodon – Port Ainé-Rialp ( 217,7 km)
Stage 5: Friday 22nd of March: Rialp – Lleida (156,5 km)
Stage 6: Saturday 23rd of March: Almacelles – Valls (178, 7 km)
Stage 7: Sunday 24th of March: El Vendrell – Barcelona (Montjuïc) (122,2 km)