Yates, Trentin and Chaves return to racing at the Volta a la Comunitat ValenciaSat 2 Feb 2019
Next week at the Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, seven Mitchelton-SCOTT riders will kick start their 2019 seasons, with Briton Adam Yates ready to test his legs on the climbs, European champion Matteo Trentin eyeing sprint stages and Giro d'Italia stage winner Esteban Chaves making a much anticipated return to racing.
Chaves will get the chance to pin a number on his jersey once again after an eight month hiatus due to being diagnosed with Epstein-barr virus along with sinus and allergy reactions mid-way through the 2018 season.
With plenty of kilometres in the legs after a tough Spanish training camp, the balanced seven-rider squad are ready to get back into the peloton and hope to carry on the team's successful momentum from Australia.
With a lung-busting welcome back to racing, the tour kicks off proceedings with a 10km team time trial on day one, followed by a moderately hilly but potential sprint stage for day two.
The climbers will have a chance to stretch their legs in the mountains on stages three and four, which will be a good welcome back test for the likes of Mikel Nieve, Jack Haig, Yates and Chaves. Stage three looks to be the most decisive for the general classification with a steep finishing climb, before racing concludes with a short 88km pan-flat final stage for the sprinters in Valencia.
As always at the start of the season in Europe, the racing and competition can be quite unpredictable. One man to watch will be world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who won the event last year and will be looking for a strong showing in the rainbow bands whilst racing in his home country. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was a consistently high finisher on the hilly stages last year along with teammate Jakob Fugslang, and the pair will likely be marked riders in this year's edition once again.
Last year Adam Yates just missed out on a podium finish with fourth place after a strong showing on stage four when he climbed to second place behind Valverde, who did enough to secure the overall victory. Luka Mezgec also came close to a stage victory in 2018 with a second place on the opening sprint stage.
In 2017 the team tasted success with former team rider Magnus Cort who claimed a stage win on stage three.
“I’m really happy, excited, nervous and anxious to start racing again. It is a long time for me without racing so everything is a big question mark, but with this team and my teammates it will be awesome like always. I’m sure we will share awesome experiences and like always we will do the maximum we can at the race.
“I feel good, I started to train normally again since the middle of September last year. I needed to have a lot of patience because my performance was at the minimum level I have ever had in my life. I really had to start again from zero but now it is awesome to be back on the bike.
“I am excited that I can pin a number on my back again really soon. It is hard to say if I will be back at the normal level, this is a big question mark but I am excited to see.
"I hope to get through the race well, recover good day-by-day and start to put some kilometres of racing back into my legs, but the most important thing is that I want to enjoy the race like I used to do.”
“My winter training has been really good with good weather in Monaco and over Christmas it was really good as I also did 10days of cross-country skiing and two cycle-cross races, so I feel ready to race now. It’s time to go, I feel bored to train.
“I am really happy to start to race again especially because this year I will start the season without an injury and I have again six months with the European champions jersey, so I want to honour it and win with the team of course.
“I think probably there could be sprints on two days in Valencia, the second day is pretty hard but still can be possible. I really want to be in the mix and breathe again the competition, I'm ready to start this season.”
Dave McPartland - Sport director
“We want to have a good crack at getting results, there’s guys really ready to race and get some early runs on the board, but we really want to make sure we just go through the process well, riding in the bunch, positioning and so on. For three months guys haven’t raced so they will need to blow out the cobwebs, not just physically but mentally and we want to do this right from the start.
“We have GC ambitions and will set up our climbers for the hardest stage. If Adam hasn’t lost any time before then, then he should be in contention for the GC, this will of course depend on how the first couple of stages go and we will see how the TT will effect things.
"For the potential sprint stages we have both Trentin and Mezgec who are both really ready to race now and it will be really good to have Chaves back and welcome him back to racing. From all reports he is coming at a level were he should be able to handle the race with no troubles so we are just looking forward to having him back racing with the team.”
2019 Vuelta a Valencia - Race Details:
Wednesday, 6th Feb: Stage 1, Orihuela - Orihuela, 10km TT
Thursday, 7th Feb: Stage 2, Alicante - Alicante, 166km
Friday, 8th Feb: Stage 3, Quart de Poblet - Chera, 194km
Saturday, 9th Feb: Stage 4, Vila-real - Alcalà-Alcossebre, 188km
Sunday, 10th Feb: Stage 5, Paterna - Valencia, 88.5km
Photo courtesy of Kramon