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Poels aiming for another Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana victory

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Wout Poels looks happy with his new kit

Wout Poels looks happy with his new kit (Image credit: Team Sky)
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Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky)

Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Ian Stannard (Team Sky)

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) (Image credit: Team Sky)
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David de la Cruz (QuickStep Floors)

David de la Cruz (QuickStep Floors) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michal Kwiatkowski in Team Sky's 2018 race kit

Michal Kwiatkowski in Team Sky's 2018 race kit (Image credit: Team Sky)

Team Sky is sending a powerful squad to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in support of Dutchman Wout Poels, who is keen to reprise his winning performance in the race in 2016.

Poels had a tough 2017 season after developing knee issues that kept him out of the Classics and led to him missing the team for the Tour de France. Now back to full health after a strong late season that included a stage win and third place overall in the Tour de Pologne and a sixth overall in the Vuelta a España, Poels is keen to hit the ground running this year.

The Tour of Valencia provides Team Sky with a chance to hone their team time trial skills, with a 30km test one of the major features of the five-day race.

Directeur sportif Servais Knaven says he has brought a strong line-up with that stage in mind, including former time trial world champion Vasil Kiryienka and Polish time trial champion Michal Kwiatkowski.

"Hopefully the guys will be able to take time on the other GC contenders - that would be great and that's the aim," Knaven said. "Then you're in a good position for the mountaintop finish on Saturday, but if we have to make time back then we have a strong team who could make the race hard.

The other main difficulty is an uphill finish to Cocentaina on stage 4 on the day after the team time trial, while the other stages offer opportunities for the sprinters and breakaway artists. "There's a bit of everything so it's a good race to start the season."