This Sunday, the riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will head to Andalucia, in the south of Spain, to take part in the Clasica de Almeria (1.Pro, 14/02). The team will make its fifth consecutive appearance in the one-day race, which traditionally offers an opportunity for the sprinters, with much of the climbing to take place in the first part of the 183 kilometer race. The peloton will have to get past four categorized climbs along the slopes of the Sierra Alhamilla, before a more favorable route and about 50 kilometers for the riders to organize themselves in view of the finish in Roquetas de Mar.
Fully recovered from his crash over a week ago in the Etoile de Bessèges, Danny Van Poppel will lead the team with a solid track record on this race. Last season, the Dutchman finished fourth, and only Caleb Ewan denied him the victory in 2018. Alongside him, two of his teammates that accompanied him in France a week ago will also have their say in the finale : his brother Boy as well as the German rider Jonas Koch. It will be a first appearance this season for Belgians Pieter Vanspeybroeck and Loïc Vliegen and Dutchman Taco Van der Hoorn however, with the opening weekend of the classics already in sight. And last but not least, also Italian rider Andrea Pasqualon can play an important role for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux under the sportive direction of Jean-Marc Rossignon. Vanspeybroeck ended 10th on this exact same finish in Roquetas de Mar back in 2019, and the entire roster (bar Van der Hoorn) at the start already displays numerous participations in the Clasica.
Danny Van Poppel :
"Now that I have a full stage race in the legs, I feel like I am ready for Almeria. The crash was not too serious and now I am all in for Sunday. This is a race I know and where I have done well in the past. It is not an extraordinarily hard route, so it usually favors a sprint finish. I have not had the opportunity to truly sprint yet, because of my crash in stage 2 of Bessèges, and this time we will hopefully be able to test our sprint train. This is something I really look forward to, also because I enjoy riding with these guys."
“After this Clasica de Almeria I will start my classic campaign and if all goes well I will be at the start of Paris-Nice. Ultimately, the big goal with our sprint train is the Tour de France, where I want to be at my best in the flat stages. That is what drives me the most. The very attractive race calendar of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, with the certainty of automatically starting the three Grand Tours as a World Team, offers me many perspectives. I am 100% committed to succeed. »
“When I look back at last season, I would say it was not bad but I am not completely satisfied. The first races didn't go as I had hoped and the Covid break was an ordeal for me personally. I was looking forward to the restart in August with great motivation, but unfortunately I was struck by bad luck in Milan-San Remo with a crash and in another race a mechanical. In the end I was able to turn the switches on and sprint to victory in the Gooikse Pijl in September. This win gave me a lot of confidence, because my previous victory was a long way back at the end of 2018. I was also keen to give something in return to my team. They have always supported me, even when I experienced rough patches of form or setbacks. I am grateful for that, because in top sport it happens all too often that you are let down when you are less successful. I am delighted that the team is behind me and gives me some liberty allowing me to perform as well as possible. »
Selection Clasica de Almeria:
Taco Van der Hoorn
Boy Van Poppel
Danny Van Poppel