Volta / Classicissima lineups
'Bala', overall victor of Spain's oldest race in 2009 and winner of three stages in 2015, defends Movistar Team's hopes after Quintana's success last season. Bennati heads Blues' lineup in Milano-Sanremo
After missing out on Paris-Nice due to illness -Gorka Izagirre going on to successfully stand the Movistar Team's ground with a fantastic 4th place overall-, Alejandro Valverde will finally be back into competition with the 97th Volta a Catalunya (Monday 20 – Sunday 26 March). The Spaniard, winner of both the Vuelta a Murcia and the Vuelta a Andalucía in 2017, will have a strong, eight-man squad by his side, including local Marc Soler, Imanol Erviti, Andrey Amador, José Joaquín Rojas, Rubén Fernández, Jonathan Castroviejo and Nelson Oliveira. José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía will be the sports directors.
The Catalan stagerace -which Valverde won in 2009, led in 2013 (before crashing out) and honoured in 2015 with three stage victories and an overall 2nd-place finish-, will feature a route significantly different to previous editions, with a 41km TTT in Banyoles (Tuesday 21) and a second mountain-top finish in Lo Port / Tortosa (Friday 25) to add to the well-known La Molina ascent (Wednesday 23). Lumpy routes towards Calella, Igualada or Reus and a traditional showdown in the Montjuïc mountain, in Barcelona, complete the week's program.
In turn, two days before the Volta starts (Saturday 18), José Luis Jaimerena will head a second Movistar Team unit at the first 'Monument' of the spring classic season, the 108th Milano-Sanremo, over 291km -the longest race for the Blues every season- that include the ascents to the Turchino, the 'Capi', Cipressa and Poggio before the finish at Via Roma. Daniele Bennati -5th in 2010, 6th in 2009- will be the leader of the Blues at the Riviera Ligure, supported by Alex Dowsett, Jasha Sütterlin, Carlos Barbero, Carlos Betancur, Jorge Arcas, Nuno Bico and Héctor Carretero.