Dimension Data head into the Volta a Catalunya with an opportunistic squad that is eyeing off stage wins. The team have enjoyed wins in South Africa, UAE and Malaysia but are yet to taste success in Europe.
The hilly seven-stage race is suited for the climbers, and therefore it's no surprise Dimension Data has selected several of its best riders for the mountains. Lachlan Morton, Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Mekseb Debesay and Ben O'Connor are the men for the high mountains, complemented by the versatile Nathan Haas. Sprinter Kristian Sbaragli and road captain Jacques Janse van Rensburg will round out the team.
"For Volta a Catalunya we have mostly a climbers team but also with a fast option in Kristian Sbaragli who can also climb well for the medium stages, similarly to Nathan. It is a race with a lot of climbing so I think it is a race we must be rather offensive in," sports director Alex Vega explained.
Merhawi Kudus was the team's best finisher last year in 11th overall, and with a star-studded lineup of general classification riders for 2017, Vega added stages rather than top-ten is a more achievable goal.
"When you see the level of the top favourites like Froome, Valverde and Zakarin it will be very difficult to achieve a GC spot so we must go through the stages and go for a win there," he added. "If we can collect anything else while fighting for stages, like the Mountains jersey or Sprinters jersey we will try to get that. There are a lot of opportunities for breakaway's and so that is where we are looking to take our chances."
The Volta a Catalunya starts with a challenging stage in Calella before the 40km team time trial in Banyoles. Stage 3 to La Molina is considered the toughest day of the race for the climbers with stage 4 a possibility for a bunch sprint. While La Molina will challenge the climbers, Stage 5 to Lo Port is likely to shape the final general classification. The race then concludes with another possible day for the sprinters into Reus before the final day hilly circuit in Barcelona.
Dimension Data for Volta a Catalunya: Nathan Haas, Lachlan Morton, Kristian Sbaragli, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Mekseb Debesay and Ben O'Connor.