Team Sky names the eight riders that they will take to the Volta a Catalunya in Spain over March 20-26
The three Grand Tour contenders will be using the race for different reasons. Triple Tour de France winner Froome makes his first European race appearance after a block of training as he starts his 2017 Tour preparations, while Welshman Thomas and Spaniard Landa continue their build-up to being joint Sky leaders at the Giro d’Italia in May fresh from Tirreno-Adriatico, which finished on Tuesday.
Thomas showed that he is currently in great form, having fought back from disappointment in Tirreno’s opening team time trial to take a stage win and fifth place overall behind winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Had it not been for a mechanical mishap leading to Sky losing over a minute and a half during the TTT, Thomas could well have been looking at a podium position.
Joining Froome, Thomas and Landa at Volta a Catalunya will be British rider Peter Kennaugh, Irishman Philip Deignan, Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka, Spaniard Mikel Nieve and Italian Diego Rosa.
The squad will face strong opposition, with Paris-Nice runner-up Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), 2009 winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r) all in attendance. However, last year’s winner, Quintana, will not take part.
Froome was Sky’s highest placed rider in last year’s Catalunya in eighth. Thomas withdrew on stage four after reportedly suffering from fatigue due to his win in Paris-Nice the previous week.
The seven-stage WorldTour race features one test against the clock: stage two’s long 41.3km team time trial where Sky will no doubt be hoping for a better performance than in Tirreno. A lot of time could be gained or lost on the stage.
The rest of the race offers up a selection of variously hilly/mountainous stages, with stage five finishing atop Lo Port offering the biggest test for the general classification hopefuls. Stage three to La Molina will also be a leg-breaker, featuring three first category ascents in succession in the second half of the stage.
Robert Millar is the sole British winner of the race, having claimed overall honours in 1985. Irish rider Dan Martin won in 2013, and will return in 2017 with Quick-Step Floors.