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Deignan to kick of big season at Volta ao Algarve

Posted 13 February 2012


Philip Deignan will open his 2012 season for the United Healthcare team at the Volta ao Algarve tomorrow (Tuesday) as one of five Irish riders hoping to make an impact on the five-day race.
Deignan is stepping up the role of team leader this season and the American outfit has put a strong team together to bolster his chances of getting his season off to a positive start.
He will share a leadership role with team stalwart Rory Sutherland with the team also including Marc De Maar, Christopher Jones, Jeff Louder, Jason McCartney, Kai Reus and Bradley White.
Nicolas Roche’s AG2R La  Mondiale team has also sent a strong team to the race which presents Roche with a his first opportunity to build upon his stage winning performance at last season’s Tour of Beijing closer.
Roche will be joined by Martin Elmiger, Biel Kadri, Mickael Cherel, Sebastien Minard and Anthony Ravard with sprinter Lloyd Mondory and climber Christophe Riblon also eyeing potential stage wins.
Irish interest also extends to the An Post Sean Kelly team where Mark Cassidy and Conor McConvey will get their seasons underway alongside Donegal man Ronan McLaughlin.
Team manager Kurt Boagerts has also drafted in the experienced Niko Eeckhout and Pieter Ghyllebert as part of the team which is completed by Mark Christian, Stijn Ennekens and Kenneth Vanbilsen.
The race opens with a 151 kilometre road stage from Dunas Douradas (Almancil) to Albufeira. The last of two third category climbs comes 39 kilometres from the finish where the flat terrain plays to the strengths of the sprinters.
Stage two from Faro to Lagoa is 187.5 kilometres with category three climbs after 107 kilometres and 136 kilometres. The stage closes with a two kilometre uphill drag which could be enough to entice Roche to try his hand.
The queen stage takes place on Thursday with a 194.6 kilometre trek from Castro Marim to Malhao (Loule). The longest stage is made for Deignan with four category three climbs stuffed into 57 kilometres before the final showshow on the category two summit finish.
Stage four from Villamoura to Tavira starts with a category three climb after 48 kilometres but after that it is all downhill to the finish where the terrain is once more suited to the speed merchants.
The race concludes on Saturday with a 25.8 kilometre individual time trial from Lagoa to Portimao. Deignan has spent the winter fine-tuning his time-trial position and that work could prove to be valuable if he finds himself in contention for overall honours.
Volta ao Algarve
Stage :1 February 15 - Dunas Douradas (Almancil) - Albufeira 151 km
Stage 2: February 16 - Faro - Lagoa 187.5 km
Stage 3: February 17 - Castro Marim - Malhão (Loulé) 194.6 km
Stage 4: February 18 - Vilamoura - Tavira 186.3 km
Stage 5: February 19 - (ITT) Lagoa - Portimão 25.8 km
AG2R La Mondiale
Nicholas Roche (Ire)
Martin Elmiger (Swi)
Biel Kadri (Fra)
Lloyd Mondory (Fra)
Mickaël Cherel (Fra)
Sébastien Minard (Fra)
Anthony Ravard (Fra)
Christophe Riblon (Fra)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
Marc De Maar (AHO)
Philip Deignan (Ire)
Christopher Jones (USA)
Jeff Louder (USA)
Jason Mccartney (USA)
Kai Reus (Ned)
Rory Sutherland (Aus)
Bradley White (USA)
An Post - Sean Kelly
Nico Eeckhout (Bel)
Mark Christian (GBr)
Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel)
Ronan McLaughlin (Ire)
Mark Cassidy (Ire)
Stijn Ennekens (Bel)
Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel)
Connor McConvey (Ire)

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