Mezgec heads-up Mitchelton-SCOTT squad at sprint-friendly Clasica de AlmeriaThu 13 Feb 2020
Mitchelton-SCOTT will continue their early season European campaign in Spain as they take on the one-day Clasica de Almeria.
Sprinter Luka Mezgec will return to action after the Volta Valenciana as he steps up his comeback to racing following his 2019 Vuelta a Espana crash, and the 31-year-old will be hoping to be in the mix once more after a podium finish in Almeria last year.
The Slovenian will be backed-up by a powerful outfit as a number of riders take to the start line for the first time in 2020, including debutant Alexander Konychev, veteran Michael Albasini and Australian Alex Edmondson.
Edoardo Affini (ITA, 23)
Michael Albasini (SUI, 39)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 26)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 30)
Alexander Konychev (ITA, 21)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 31)
Robert Stannard (AUS, 21)
The Clasica de Almeria route has been altered slightly for the 35th edition of the race, but the 187.6km loop around Roquetas de Mar still features four categorised climbs, the hardest of which is the category-two Alto Alijbe de la Cruz which tops out after 50km.
The final categorised climb comes at 135km before the peloton races back towards the coastline for an expected bunch sprint finale
The team have enjoyed success in Southern Spain in recent years with former rider Magnus Cort and Caleb Ewan taking back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018 before Mezgec sprinted to third last season.
“I’m excited for Almeria again. Valencia was actually a really good comeback for me with some really nice weather and a hard race as well. I saw that my condition is really good and that the winter was actually good with all my training, so it was nice to spin the legs again in a race. I expect to be at a better level now starting in Almeria.”
“Last year I was third and we did some strong teamwork with some high pace on the climbs and kept that pace to the final, so the group wasn’t too big at the end. This year I haven’t looked at the field, so I don’t know which sprinters will be there, but anyway I’m expecting a bunch kick like usual. It’s a flatter race so it can’t be much different other than a bunch sprint and in the sprint, anything can happen.”
Matt White (Head Sports Director):
“The month of February, in Europe, is for building and prepping for our goals in March, so for some guys their first race was Valencia and for some it will be here and it’s all about getting back into the process of how we go about winning bike races and their roles.”
“There is quite a hard climb in the race but it’s 100km from the finish, so what we did last year was drilled the climb and got it down to around a group of 30 or 40 and then just drilled it for 100km.”
“It was an incredible effort last year for the team to do that and in the end, Luka finished third. It can be windy at this time of year, but the hardest part of the race is 100km to go so it does make it difficult for anyone to do anything, so we’ll be looking to support Luka the best we can and look for a result in a sprint.”
“Sprinting is about confidence and timing, and Sunday will be another chance to get Luka back to his best for the coming months.”
Clasica de Almeria Race Details 2020:
Sunday, 16 January: Roquetas de Mar - Roquetas de Mar, 187.6km