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'The goal is clear' – Jonas Vingegaard begins Tour build-up at O Gran Camiño

Jonas Vingegaard saw little reason to change a winning formula when he planned his 2024 season, and the Dane will once begin his campaign at O Gran Camiño, which gets underway on Thursday.

Twelve months ago, Vingegaard was utterly dominant in Galicia, claiming three stage wins en route to overall victory, and he lines out as the overwhelming favourite once again this week.

“I enjoyed the race in Spain last year,” Vingegaard said in a statement released by his Visma-Lease A Bike team. 

“I won three stages and the general classification in my first race of the season. It’s always nice to return as the reigning winner. The goal for this year is clear: we will try to defend my title.”

In a near mirror of his 2023 programme, the event is one of four races on Vingegaard’s calendar ahead of this year’s Tour de France, where he is chasing a third straight title. He is also due to line out at Tirreno-Adriatico, Itzulia Basque Country and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Vingegaard will lead a strong Visma-Lease A Bike at O Gran Camiño, with new arrivals Cian Uijtdebroeks, Ben Tulett and Johannes Staune-Mittet joined by the experienced Wilco Kelderman and development riders Menno Huising and Tijmen Graat. 

Uijtdebroeks, who arrived from Bora-Hansgrohe late in the winter, and Kelderman are building towards the Giro d’Italia. Vingegaard’s key supporting man at the Tour, Sepp Kuss, was already in action at the Vuelta a Murcia, Jaén Paraiso and the Volta ao Algarve. The Dane has been training at altitude in Tenerife in recent weeks.

“The last few months have been all about training camps,” Vingegaard said. “It went very well. In Tenerife, we put the finishing touches to our preparations for the start of the season. After a wonderful time in Spain, I can’t wait to start racing here.”

After Remco Evenpoel won the Volta ao Algarve at the weekend, Vingegaard is the second of the four main Tour favourites to begin his season. Tadej Pogačar is not expected to race until Strade Bianche, while Primož Roglič is currently slated to make his Bora-Hansgrohe debut at Paris-Nice.

The field for this third edition of O Gran Camiño is deeper than it was a year ago. Richard Carapaz, Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) and Egan Bernal (Ineos), who all impressed at the Tour Colombia, will be among Vingegaard’s key rivals, while Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) also feature.

The four-day race gets underway on Thursday with a 14.1km time trial in A Coruña, while stage 2 features the stiff climb of the Alto de San Pedro di Licora in the finale. The race concludes on Sunday with a category 1 summit finish at Tui.

“It was a choice with the bigger picture in mind,” directeur sportif Robert Wagner said of Vingegaard’s debut in Galicia. “After the race in Spain, Jonas has two WorldTour races scheduled for the spring: Tirreno-Adriatico and Itzulia Basque Country. Camiño is ideal for getting in the necessary hard kilometres after training at altitude.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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