News shorts: Kwiatkowski to Volta ao Algarve, Sanchez to Vuelta a Murcia

Kwiatkowski leads Etixx in the Algarve

Michal Kwiatkowski will lead a strong Etixx-QuickStep team at the Volta ao Algarve as he looks to defend his title. Kwiatkowski beat Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 19 seconds in 2014, taking two stage wins along the way. Returning as the reigning World Champion he will be a major favourite to take the title again.

Joining Kwiatkowski will be Tony Martin, who will be a strong contender for the time trial on stage 3. Sprinter Gianni Meersman is another contender for a stage win after his recent victory at the Cadel Evans Road Race. Zdenek Stybar will make his season debut as he looks to get a good build-up for the classics season, where he aims to take his first major win on the cobbles. Completing the line-up will be Yves Lampaert, Petr Vakoc, Michal Golas and Julien Vermote.

The race runs from February 18 to 22.

Etixx-QuickStep for the Volta ao Algarve: Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Gianni Meersman, Zdenek Stybar, Yves Lampaert, Petr Vakoc, Michal Golas and Julien Vermote.

UnitedHealthcare send teams to Herald Sun Tour and Dubai Tour

US-based Professional Continental team UnitedHealthcare will send full squads at the upcoming Herald Sun Tour (February 4-8) and Dubai Tour (February 4-7).

Hendrik Redant will direct an eight-man, all-American team at the Sun Tour, despite the fact that the team has proven Australian sprinters such as Hilton Clarke. This year’s roster is John Murphy, Tanner Putt, Chris Jones, Adrian Hegyvary, Danny Summerhill and climber Lucas Euser.

“We chose, this year, to come to Australia with a full American squad, knowing that some Australians on our team are criterium specialists, we adjusted our roster to perform at our best in the oldest race of Australia,” Redant said. “With this team I am convinced we can compete at a high level. Let the race be on.”

Roberto Damiani will direct an eight-man team in Dubai that includes climber Janez Brajkovic, suited for the stage 3 final climb on Hotta Dam, along with sprinters Alessandro Bazzana, Marco Canola, Kiel Reijnen and Robert Förster, and support riders Davide Frattini, Daniele Ratto and Federico Zurlo.

The team kickstarted their season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January and recently raced Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday.

Luis León Sánchez to return to Vuelta a Ciclista a Murcia with Astana

Spaniard Luis León Sánchez (Astana) will return to his home race at the UCI 1.1 Vuelta a Ciclista a Murcia on February 14.

Sanchez joined the Kazakh WorldTour team in 2015 after racing for the Professional Continental team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA last year. He has plenty of experience to share with his new teammates having competed for more than a decade at the WorldTour level with teams Liberty Seguros, Astana-Würth, Caisse d’Espargne, Rabobank and Belkin.

Last year, he won the mountain classification at the Vuelta a España, won a stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, was third overall at the Ruta del Sol, took a stage podium at the Volta a Portugal, second place at Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika and finished 34th at the Vuelta a Ciclista a Murcia.

In a press release, Vuelta a Ciclista a Murcia organizers noted that Sanchez will be joined by his teammates Michele Scarponi and Rein Taaramae at this year’s event.

Sanchez started his season with Astana at the Tour Down Under in January where he placed 13th overall.

Giro del Trentino organizers announce queen stage 2 details

Organizers of the UCI 2.HC Giro del Trentino, Gs Alto Garda, have announced the details of the queen stage for the 2015 event held from April 21-24. The mountainous stage 2 will start in Dro and finish in Brentonico on April 22, and will include three categorized climbs, all located in the second half of the stage.

During the 168km stage, riders will contest rolling terrain for the first 100km through Valle di Ledro, Valli Giudicarie and Valle dei Laghi. The race will continue on to the main climb, an HC category Monte Velo, which is 15 kilometres in length and averages 8.6 per cent, from Bolognano to Passo di Santa Barbara.

The riders will descend to Valle di Gresta before heading into the final climb of the day, an eight-kilometre ascent to the finish in Brentonico, where the last two kilometres is an 8.5 per cent drag to the finish line.

Last year, Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) soloed to the stage 2 finish held in Brentonico at San Giacomo Resort, while Cadel Evans (BMC) won the overall title following the stage 4 finale on Monte Bondone.

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