Uran looking at Volta a Catalunya to sharpen form for Giro d'Italia bid

Dombrowski and Woods will soak up more WorldTour experience at Spanish stage race

Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Rigoberto Uran will head to Spain next week for the Volta a Catalunya, where the Colombian climber hopes to sharpen his form for the Giro d’Italia in May.

“Rigoberto is looking to pop off a good performance at Catalunya,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “It’s super mountainous. Every stage is hard. You’ve got some climbs that genuinely go into the Pyrénées. Rigo’s got to be in there. He needs to be in the hunt to really push his body to be able to perform at the Giro.”

Riders backing up Uran at Catalunya include Joe Dombroswki, André Cardoso and Michael Woods. Andrew Talansky, Davide Formolo, Nathan Brown and Alex Howes are also on the provisional roster.

The race will also be a key test for Dombrowski, who is on Cannondale’s list for the Giro along with Uran. A start at the Giro would be Dombrowski’s second Grand Tour after riding the Vuelta a Espana last year.

“I'm looking forward to it,” Dombrowski said. “As a professional rider, I might be less likely to be a fan of riders in the sport, but I am a fan of Rigo. He races with panache, and he exudes cool. Plus, I think he's a guy you want to ride for. He can call the shots when decisions need to be made, but he's pretty ‘tranquilo’ when things are more relaxed.”

Dombrowski has raced 10 days this year, starting with February’s Volta a Valencia in Spain, followed by the Tour du Haut Var and Tour La Provence in France. Catalunya will be Dombroski’s first WorldTour event of 2016.

“I'm feeling good,” Dombrowksi said. “I’m just coming off a short trip to the US. Training has been going well. I might not be at my sharpest yet, but I'm confident I can go well. This is my first WorldTour race of the season, and we aren't too far off from the Giro, so the aim is to be there supporting the guys on the mountain days, and hopefully be there at all the crucial times.”

Woods, who is in his first year with Cannondale, jumped head first into the WorldTour in January at the Santos Tour Down Under, where he finished third in two stages and was fifth overall.

Woods has been on an extended break from racing while he settles into his European home, but he’s excited to get back into the WorldTour peloton in Catalunya.

“Fortunately, I am all settled in now,” he said. “It has been a nice break from racing, and a great opportunity to build a base for the many races to come. However, I have been getting antsy to actually race, so I am looking forward to Monday.”

Woods said the team has high expectations for Volta a Catalunya, and he’s ready to contribute.

“We have a super strong group of guys and my job is to protect our team leaders and try to set them up as best I can for a top result.”

Volta a Catalunya starts Monday, March 21, in Calella and runs through Sunday, March 27, with a final stage in Barcelona.


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