Lotto Soudal's André Greipel will compete at the Volta ao Algarve in February as part of his buildup for the 2015 Spring Classics, according to a statement released this week by the UCI 2.1 race in Portugal.
Tour de France stage winner Tony Gallopin will join Greipel, Jurgen Roelandts, Sean de Bie, Stig Broeckx, Marcel Sieberg and Vegard Breen in the five-day race that takes place February 18-22.
Greipel, who will start his season February 9 at the Mallorca challenge, is changing his early season schedule this year. The German sprinter is skipping the Tour Down Under for the first time since 2008 in order to have a later start to his season.
“It's a pity I won't go to Australia, because I always liked being there and I set very good results,” he said. “But I'm 32 and if I want another approach this is the moment to try, we'll see what it gives. December is more relaxed now, I have done less kilometres compared to the previous years because it's not necessary to be in top shape [four Tour Down Under]. Other years the condition was often less good in March, I want to avoid that by building up gradually to the spring.”
Grepiel won more races in 2014 than anyone else in the peloton, including two stages at the Tour Down Under, a stage of the Tour de France and the German national title. But he left the Classics winless after injuring his shoulder at Gent-Wevelgem.
Lotto Soudal is one of 18 teams already confirmed for the 41st edition of the Volta ao Algarve. The others are Astana, Ettix-QuickStep, Cannondale-Garmin, Katusha, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Sky, Bora-Argon 18, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, RusVelo, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Efapel, LA Alumínios-Antarte, Louletano-Ray Just Energy, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, Rádio Popular-Boavista, Team Banco BIC and W52-Quinta da Lixa.