The route of the 2017 Tour of Portugal (August 4-15) promises to bring exciting racing as JLT Condor debut at Portugal’s toughest stage race.
Back in action
Following a busy summer featuring several criterium events the stage-race men are back in action and begin their build up for selection at the Tour of Britain.
Edmund Bradbury, who crashed out of the Tour de Taiwan in March returns to racing after a long recovery from a broken hip and femur tendon injury. New Zealand sprinter, Alex Frame pairs with Russell Downing for the sprint stages in the race.
Bronze medallist in the National Time Trial Championships James Gullen will look to hone his form along with all-rounder Ian Bibby.
This is the first time the team has attended the race. The event which takes place over ten stages is the longest race of the year for the squad. Part of the UCI Europe Tour series, the Tour of Portugal known locally as Volta a Portugal is a 2.1 categorised event and first took place in 1927.
Former winners include Vladimir Efimkin (team mate to Geriant Thomas at Barloworld) and World Road Race Champion Rui Costa. In recent years Spanish riders have dominated the podium, though last year Australian Will Clarke now at World Tour outfit Cannondale-Drapc scored a surprise win in the mountains.
Book-ended with two time trials the race is dominated by hilly days in the mountains, which will suit Ian Bibby, James Gullen, Ed Laverack and Edmund Bradbury.
There are two stages with flat finishes where powerful track sprinter, Alex Frame will try to shine. If the team are able to control the pace of the race over the early climbs.
The Prologue – 5.4km – Friday 4 August
Short and sharp the race opens with an individual time trial in Libson. Riders will race along the port make a sharp 180 turn and head back to the finish to set their time.
Alex Frame lines up to the prologue as a pre-race favourite. Earlier this season he finished third on the streets of Melbourne in the Herald Sun Tour Prologue and won the prologue at the Istrian Spring Trophy in Croatia.
Stage 4 – Mondim de Basto – Tuesday 8 August
The shortest stage is one of the toughest. There isn’t an inch of flat route on the 152km stage, which finishes on a snaking climb on the mountain known Alto de Senhora da Graça.
Ian Bibby and Edmund Bradbury will look to use feature on today’s stage, which features a long 10km to the finish at 10% average gradient.
Stage 5 – Viana do Castelo – Wednesday 9 August
Following the first of the high mountain days, the peloton has an easier transition stage towards the coast. There are lumps and bumps but a downhill run to the line is the perfect opportunity for sprinters, Alex Frame and Russell Downing to come out to play.
Stage 9 – Guarda – Monday 14 August
It is likely the leaders jersey will change shoulders on the penultimate day of the race. The Queen stage features one huge mid-stage mountain followed by two shorter ascents and steep summit finish. The 27km climb through the National Park is bound to tear the peloton apart leaving overall race contenders left to battle it out for final 62km of the stage.
Stage 10 – Viseu – Tuesday 15 August
A 20km time trial finishes the 79th Tour of Portugal. There are dragging climbs in the early part of the course but the majority is flat. The profile will suit time trial specialist James Gullen.
Follow the race
Racing begins each day at 1100 (UK Time) with the stages predicted to finish at 1630 (UK Time).
The official race twitter feed is: @voltaportugal