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Remco Evenepoel to kick-off 2022 season at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana

CALPE SPAIN JANUARY 10 Remco Evenepoel of Belgium speaks to the media press during the QuickStep Alpha Vinyl Team 2022 Media Day on January 10 2022 in Calpe Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) will make his 2022 season debut at the five-day Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in early February, with a host of other big-name riders opting to kick off their 2022 season at the Spanish event.

Evenepoel was due to ride the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, which had the same February 2-6 dates as the Valenciana stage race, but the South American event has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

“I’m happy to be going to Valenciana. I like riding in Spain, the weather and the fans are great, and I had success there as early as my first pro season,” Evenepoel said as QuickStep-AlphaVinyl confirmed his race plans. 

“I can’t wait to get the season started. I had a good winter preparation and I feel more relaxed than last year. I hope to have a solid year, as I look forward to improving, to making more steps in the right direction, and getting some wins here and there.” 

Evenepeol’s 2022 season will include a series of stage races and one-day Classics before he targets the Veulta a Espana in the late summer.

The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana was postponed to April last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic but returns to its traditional early season slot for 2022, where it has become a favoured first stage race of the year for many top names.

15 of the 18 World Tour teams will be taking part in the first 2.Pro category event of 2022, and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan), Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Jakob Fuglsang (Israel - Premier Tech) Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) will be joining Evenepoel on the race’s stage one start line in the small town of Les Alqueries in northern Valencia.

The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana organisers have released the full route, which kicks off with a hilly 173 km stage with a final climb three kilometres from the finish in Torralba del Pinar.

Following stage two’s flatter course between Betera and Torrent, the toughest day’s racing of this year’s route is unquestionably on stage three. Starting in Alicante, the 156 kilometre stage features five classified climbs as well as three kilometres of dirt road racing in the town of Las Antenas del Maigmó.

The final two stages of the 2022 race will both likely come down to  bunch sprints. Stage four runs between Orihuela, the hometown of Bernardo Ruiz, the oldest living Grand Tour winner who triumphed in the 1948 Vuelta a España, and the coastal resort of Torrevieja. 

The second is a traditional short, unchallenging stage between the town of Paterna and the capital, Valencia.

Spanish fans will be keeping a close eye on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who has opted to make the Valenciana the first stage race of his final season as a pro. Valverde has won the race three times in his career, most recently in 2018.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.