Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Vuelta a Murcia and Clasica de Almeria
One of the best riders of 2017, Philippe Gilbert will start his season this weekend.
Philippe Gilbert has had quite the season last year, when he became one of the few riders in history to win Ronde van Vlaanderen and Amstel Gold Race in the same campaign, each of these victories coming in spectacular fashion.
Despite enjoying a successful season, the 35-year-old Belgian isn't resting on his laurels and is motivated to make the most out of his second season in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, which he'll kick off in Spain, this Saturday, at Vuelta a Murcia – where he came out on top in 2016 – a race followed just 24 hours later by Clasica de Almeria.
"I have nice memories from Murcia after winning there, it's a race with a testing course, suited to attackers. I am happy to return to racing, it's been a long winter and I'm eager to finally start the season and reunite with my great teammates. I want to see how's my condition and to do my best in Spain, although it is difficult to say what that means after so many months without competition", a confident and relaxed Philippe said.
Gilbert will be one of the five Quick-Step Floors riders to make their season debut this weekend; Giro d'Italia white jersey Bob Jungels, neo-pro James Knox, Pieter Serry and Czech Champion Zdenek Stybar will also make their first outing of the year, while Enric Mas and Florian Sénéchal are set to join the team after riding Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Road Race in January.
Vuelta a Murcia (208 kilometers), first of the two events, has a hilly route with four classified climbs – Alto de Cieza, Alto de Zarzadilla, Collado Bermejo and Alto de Gebas – that should turn the race into a wild and unpredictable one. Of these, Bermejo is likely to spark a major selection; as it stands, not only the seven-kilometer ascent averaging 7.2% should create some gaps, but also the fast and technical descent leading to the final climb of the day, topping out with 40 kilometers to go.
Clasica de Almeria (185 kilometers) – where Quick-Step Floors took the win back in 2015 – also contains four climbs, with lengths ranging from 1.4 to 4.3 kilometers, but as all are packed in the first part of the race, they shouldn't thwart the sprinters' efforts for early-season glory, especially as the final 90 kilometers are largely downhill or flat.
Photo: ©Sigfrid Eggers