O'Connor looking to break into top 10 for Dimension Data at Volta a Catalunya
Gibbons provides African team's firepower for sprint stages
Dimension Data head to the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya on Monday with Ben O'Connor looking at breaking into the top 10 at this year's race, while Ryan Gibbons will focus on the sprint stages.
O'Connor came away from Catalunya with 11th place overall last year, and then went on to ride a superb Giro d'Italia, crashing out just two days from the finish in Rome. The Australian is hoping for even better in Spain this week, and will again use the race to prepare for the Giro.
"It's going to be a really hard week in terms of the parcours," O'Connor said, thinking in particular of stage 3 to Vallter 2000 and a second summit finish the next day on stage 4 to La Molina.
"Last year, I surprised myself by finishing 11th, so it's a main aim now to try to finish in the top 10," he continued. "The group we have is super strong, with Ryan [Gibbons] also our man for the few sprints.
"It's one of the main goals going through into the Giro, so it would be great to come out of this with smiles, some results and boxes ticked," said O'Connor.
Gibbons recently rode to fourth place and third place at the road race and the time trial, respectively, at the African Continental Championships, but the South African's last stage race was the Tour of Oman in mid-February, and he'll be looking to convert a number of top-10 finishes in Oman and at the Tour Down Under into stage wins.
"I'm looking forward to a good week at the Volta a Catalunya," said Gibbons. "It's been a while since my last race, and I'm eager to see how the form is after a solid start to the season.
"It's a very strong field here this year, but we have a good group of climbers here and I'm confident that I'll be in the mix for the sprint stages," he said.
"The weather is also forecast to be pretty good, so fingers crossed it stays that way, and that we can have a successful week here in Spain."
Dimension Data for the 2019 Volta a Catalunya: Ben O'Connor, Enrico Gasparotto, Ryan Gibbons, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Danilo Wyss, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Gino Mader
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By Josh Croxton