Quick Step's Stijn Devolder isn't confident in his chances of a repeat victory at the Volta ao Algarve that starts today. Devolder is recovering from knee surgery, but will be just one rider in a strong line-up for the Belgian squad.
"It won't be easy to repeat last year's victory," said Devolder. "The problems I have had with my knee have slowed down my preparation for the race.
"At present I'm fine and the Challenge Mallorca was great in getting me back into rhythm," he added. "The most important thing is that I no longer have any problems with my knee."
Steven De Jongh will also be in Quick Step's roster for the Portuguese race. The event will be De Jongh's first since a nasty fall at the Tour of Qatar.
"We are really pleased to have De Jongh back," said sports director Rik Van Slycke. "Devolder isn't in the same form as last year but we can certainly count on athletes such as Sebastien Rosseler and Sylvain Chavanel, who are both very good in the time trial. Once again the last day's time trail race will be decisive."
De Jongh said he is feeling good ahead of the race, despite having only just returned to training this week. The event will be used to test his condition.
"I only started training again on Saturday and I rode for four hours on Sunday," De Jongh explained. "Things seem to be going well and I feel good. After speaking to our team's medical staff we decided that I could take part in this race. This will be an important trial for me in light of forthcoming races."
Quick Step roster for Volta ao Algarve: Sylvain Chavanel, Steven De Jongh, Dries Devenyns, Stijn Devolder, Sebastien Rosseler, Matteo Tosatto, Kevin Van Impe and Wouter Weylandt.