Poels aiming for another Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana victory

Team Sky rider looking to reprise 2016 title in season debut

Team Sky is sending a powerful squad to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in support of Dutchman Wout Poels, who is keen to reprise his winning performance in the race in 2016.

Poels had a tough 2017 season after developing knee issues that kept him out of the Classics and led to him missing the team for the Tour de France. Now back to full health after a strong late season that included a stage win and third place overall in the Tour de Pologne and a sixth overall in the Vuelta a España, Poels is keen to hit the ground running this year.

"I'm really looking forward to this season. I finished 2017 off strongly at the Vuelta a España and now it's time to get back in the game and try to get some nice results," Poels said on TeamSky.com.

"Naturally sixth place at the Vuelta gave me a lot of confidence. I hope I get more opportunities to do more things like that in the Grand Tours. For now, I'm just excited to get back to racing, starting this week."

The Tour of Valencia provides Team Sky with a chance to hone their team time trial skills, with a 30km test one of the major features of the five-day race.

Directeur sportif Servais Knaven says he has brought a strong line-up with that stage in mind, including former time trial world champion Vasil Kiryienka and Polish time trial champion Michal Kwiatkowski.

"Hopefully the guys will be able to take time on the other GC contenders - that would be great and that's the aim," Knaven said. "Then you're in a good position for the mountaintop finish on Saturday, but if we have to make time back then we have a strong team who could make the race hard.

"It's always good to have a TTT in a stage race. It's good practice for the new guys in the team but also, when you have a strong team, it could be a good start for GC as well. We're really focused on that TTT - it's a big goal for the week."

The other main difficulty is an uphill finish to Cocentaina on stage 4 on the day after the team time trial, while the other stages offer opportunities for the sprinters and breakaway artists. "There's a bit of everything so it's a good race to start the season."

David de la Cruz, Vasil Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Diego Rosa and Ian Stannard join Poels in the line-up.

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