Albufeira: Ireland’s Dan Martin will make his UAE Team Emirates debut in Portugal at the Volta ao Algarve from February 14-18.
Also making his team debut will be Australian Rory Sutherland, who will use his 15 years of experience to support Martin in his quest for the yellow jersey.
Martin, a former Tour de France stage winner, will compete in southern Portugal alongside teammates; Ben Swift, Jan Polanc, Vegard Stake Laengen, Valerio Conti and Edward Ravasi.
“I have a mixture of nerves and excitement going in to Volta ao Algarve,” said Martin. “There is always anxiety to get back to racing and find out where the fitness levels are, but I feel good and have trained well over the winter months, but racing is, of course, always different.
“It’s exciting to finally pin a number on the UAE Team Emirates jersey and start racing with a great group of guys. It will take time to learn how to race well together, but we have already completed two nice training camps where we have got to know each other. I’m confident that we have a very strong team coming to Algarve, so I can’t wait to get started.”
The Volta ao Algarve is a five-stage race, that sees riders tackle a mixture of flat and mountainous terrain, plus one time trial stage with competition for a jersey being extremely open and competitive.
Stage one of the tour favours the sprinters, with the 192-km route from Albufeira to Lagos featuring just two short climbs. The same cannot be said for stage two, with five climbs featuring across the 188-km route, the most testing being the 900-metre ascent finish atop Foia — the highest mountain in the Algarve.
Stage three will see riders tackle a 20-km individual time trial before moving on to a mammoth 199-km stage four route that should end in a bunched sprint finish should the peloton be able to control any possible breakaway.
The climb specialists and jersey contenders will see the final stage as the perfect opportunity to gain those vital seconds on their opposition, with another ascent finish in the town of Malhao.
UAE Team Emirates will also participate at the forthcoming Abu Dhabi Tour, giving the region’s community an opportunity to come together and support world-class athletes as they aim to become one of the top cycling teams on the tour. For more information visit UAETeamEmirates.com