Darwin Atapuma has targeted a place in the top 10 of the General Classification when he leads UAE Team Emirates at the 57th edition of Vuelta Al País Vasco.
Starting on Monday and concluding on Saturday, the six stage event, also known as Tour of the Basque Country, takes place in Northern Spain.
Colombian Atapuma, who claimed 13th in the GC at last week’s Volta a Catalunya, will be joined in UAE Team Emirates by Valerio Conti, Louis Meinjtes, Ben Swift, Kristijan Durasek, Matej Mohoric, Manuele Mori, and Diego Ulissi, all of whom have experience in the Vuelta Al País Vasco.
“After taking part in the Volta a Catalunya, my first European race this season, and achieving a good result, I’m looking forward to taking part in the Vuelta al País Vasco confident about my form,” Atapuma said.
“I was in the top 15 of the General Classification at the Volta a Catalunya, I’d like to improve and be in the top 10 after the Vuelta al País Vasco. I think the short and steep ascents of the race would play to my advantage.”
Due to the mountainous nature of the region, the race has very few flat stages and some steep ascents. The winner of the tough six-day race dons a traditional Basque Beret called the ‘Txapela’ on the podium.
“For us, the Vuelta al País Vasco can be considered an extension of the Volta a Catalunya, as the same riders participate; Atapuma, Conti and Meintjes,” UAE Team Emirates sporting director Orlando Maini said.
“The mountainous terrains of the race are ideal for climbers as every stage offers a lot of opportunities to attack. The team will also rely on the skill and experience of Diego Ulissi, as this will mark his fifth participation in the race.”
In the ranks of UAE Team Emirates is Swift, who won Stage 5 of Vuelta Al País Vasco in 2014 with his previous team, Team Sky.
The Englishman is hoping to replicate that form for his new team, having left Team Sky for UAE Team Emirates at the start of the season, although it might depend on how well he has recovered from a recent illness.
“I’m looking forward to racing at the Vuelta al País Vasco,” Swift said. :I have very fond memories of the race and have enjoyed success there in the past.
“I’m a little unsure of my condition because I’ve been sick since Milan-San Remo. I know my form was great before the Classicissima (Milan- San Remo), so hopefully this illness won’t have affected me too much.
“The route for the race this year looks good with roughly four stages that could open up the chance for a bunch sprint.”
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