Organisers of the Tour Colombia 2.1 revealed that Bob Jungels and sprinter Alvaro Hodeg will join Julian Alaphilppe on the Deceuninck-QuickStep roster for the six-stage race that runs February 12-17. The Belgian team will be among eight WorldTour teams at the race, which will also feature Astana, Bahrain-Merida, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education First, Movistar, Team Sky and UAE Team Emirates on the start line in Medellin.
Jungels will be firing the first rounds of a 2019 season that is aimed squarely at the Giro d'Italia for the 26-year-old from Luxembourg. Jungels finished sixth and eighth in the Italian race in 2016 and 2017, respectively. He skipped the Giro in 2018 in favour of the Tour de France, where he finished 11th overall, but he's retuning this year with the general classification in mind.
Hodeg, the 22-year-old Colombian who signed with QuickStep last year, will start his season at the Vuelta a San Juan against the likes of Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and former teammate and fellow Colombian fastman Fernando Gaviria, who moved to UAE Team Emirates this year after three seasons with QuickSep.
Hodeg, who took five wins in his rookie season with QuickStep, was often part of Gaviria's lead-out train when the two raced together. The younger rider was on hand for Gaviria's hat-trick od stage wins at last year's Colombia Oro y Paz.
"It was a very nice season for me, more than I expected and now I continue learning for next season that I have a little more opportunities," Hodeg told organisers of the Colombian race. "We'll see what happens."
Gaviria and Hodeg are part of an emerging group of young Colombian sprinters who are reshaping the view that the mountainous country is best at producing top climbers like Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Team Sky youngsters Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa. Hodeg is excited by the prospect of his countrymen watching himself and Gaviria fighting for stage wins.
"It's going to be a nice duel with Fernando. It's going to be something very nice for all the people in Colombia who are waiting for that," said the Cordovan rider, who in 2018 won stages of the Volta Catalunya, Tour of Poland, Tour of Germany and Tour of Turkey, in addition to taking the Handzame Classic in Belgium.
"You already hear that people are excited," Hodeg said of his potential sprint duels with Gaviria. "Everyone wants to attend, and I think the Tour Colombia is going to be a race as nice as a Tour de France, because we are going to have the best riders in the world.
"With the departure of Fernando, I will a few more opportunities and I will have more responsibilities in the team in most of the races I go to. I have to do my best to try to win more this year."
The remainder of the Deceuninck-QuickStep roster for Tour Colombia has not yet been announced.