Van Garderen to lead BMC Racing for Catalunya - News shorts

Tejay van Garderen will make his return to racing after crashing out of Paris-Nice on stage 1 in a run-in with a team car, leading BMC Racing for the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

Van Garderen was chasing back on after a minor crash on the opening day of Paris-Nice when he ran into another team's car and suffered a sprained neck.

He was lucky to avoid any more serious injury and says he has not had any lingering issues from the incident. "I am feeling good on the bike. I was a little worried after my crash in Paris-Nice as you never know how hitting your head is going to affect performance," Van Garderen said in a press release. "I took a few days off to recover, but after getting back on the bike, I haven't felt any ill effects from the crash."

Van Garderen has two Catalunya stage victories to his name, at Vallter 2000-Setcases in 2014 and La Molina the following year, and one podium overall with third place in 2014. This year's course is a bit similar to that year's route in that it has stage finishes in both of these locations.

"I like this year's Volta Ciclista a Catalunya course and I have good memories from both La Molina and Vallter 2000," Van Garderen said. "This has been a race that has brought me lots of success in the past and I hope to keep that trend going. We have a strong, motivated team and we'll be looking to perform well."

BMC Racing directeur sportif Valerio Piva says that in addition to supporting the American for the overall classification, the team's riders will be aiming for stage wins.

"We are going into the race with Tejay as our leader for the General Classification," Piva said. "He is feeling good following his crash at Paris-Nice and he is really motivated to start racing. He has won stages here on two occasions in the past and both of those finishes will feature in this year's race, so he knows it well.

"Patrick Bevin is coming out of a strong performance at Tirreno-Adriatico and perhaps he can try something on the first day," Piva said. "Then with Joey Rosskopf, Danilo Wyss, Brent Bookwalter, Loïc Vliegen and Nicolas Roche, who is coming from Paris-Nice, we have a good group of riders who can climb well, and this will important looking at this year's parcours. It will be a hard stage race, but I think we have the right people for the job and we will try to do a good race and support Tejay."

The Volta a Catalunya starts on March 19 in Calella.

BMC Racing for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya: Patrick Bevin, Brent Bookwalter, Nicolas Roche, Joey Rosskopf, Tejay van Garderen, Loïc Vliegen, Danilo Wyss.

Greipel heads up Lotto Soudal team for La Primavera

Lotto Soudal is putting its bets on sprinter André Greipel for Milan-San Remo. The German champion has two wins to his name so far this year, but his best result in La Primavera was a 24th in 2014, and he has not raced it since 2015.

Lotto Soudal directeur sportif Herman Frison believes Greipel has the form to be competitive.

"Like every year, the ascent of Cipressa will be a crucial phase, that's the moment of truth. Then it will become clear who has good legs and who hasn't. The sprinters will need to hang on when riders attack. If a group takes off on Cipressa or Poggio we need to make sure we have someone in it. André Greipel is in a good condition, he rode very well at Paris-Nice," Frison said.

"According to the weather forecasts, it will rain on Saturday. In a race of almost three hundred kilometres, the rain and cold will no doubt have their effect. Of course there are riders who like the rain, like Tim Wellens who won't be participating, but in the end, it's the same for everybody."

The team will have several other options should Greipel be left behind on the climbs.

"With Jens Debusschere and Jasper De Buyst, we have two more fast riders in our line-up. Jens Keukeleire can respond to attacks on Cipressa or lead our fast riders across the top."

Lotto Soudal for Milan-San Remo: Lars Bak, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes and Marcel Sieberg.

Nippo-Vini Fantini for Milan-San Remo

Marco Canola will lead the Italian Pro Continental squad Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini in Saturday's Milan-San Remo. The Italian has had a solid start to the season, with a second place in the GP Industria & Artigianato, and four top 10 results in stages so far this year.

"The leader for the Spring Classic will undoubtedly Marco Canola, in excellent physical condition demonstrated at the Tirreno-Adriatico," directeur sportif Mario Manzoni said. "The whole team will work to bring him in the best possible position at the start of the Poggio di Sanremo."

New recruit Juan Josè Lobato, who was let go by LottoNl-Jumbo, will start his second race with the team. Simone Ponzi and Ivan Santaromita, Manzoni says "will be fundamental team riders for the leader".

Expect to see the orange and blue jerseys of the team in the early attacks, as they have been in many races so far this season.

"We will try to become protagonists of the Milan-San Remo also with the young Damiano Cima and Marco Tizza and with Sho Hatsuyama, already the author of great action in a stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. We want to best honour this fascinating race," Manzoni said.

Nippo-Vini Fantini for Milan-San Remo: Marco Canola, Juan José Lobato, Simone Ponzi, Ivan Santaromita, Damiano Cima, Marco Tizza and Sho Hatsuyama.

Devenyns undergoes back surgery

Quick-Step Floors' Dries Devenyns will be out of competition for one month to recover after undergoing back surgery on Tuesday.

The Belgian discovered on Monday that he had a herniated disc in his back and quickly underwent the procedure to correct it. The 34-year-old Belgian was relieved to treat the pain that had been nagging him for a week.

"I am sad to miss the races I was down to start in the following months because the form was there, but I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to being pain-free and on the right track to make a full recovery," Devenyns said in a team press release. "I am grateful to the team for their support and to the doctors of the AZ Herentals Hospital. From here, I hope it's going to be only onwards and upwards for me this season. "

Before his injury, Devenyns had racked up consistently strong results, with a fifth place overall in the Tour Down Under, fourth in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and sixth overall in the Tour of Oman.

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