Vincenzo Nibali will make his first competitive appearance for Trek-Segafredo at the Volta ao Algarve, which takes place from February 19-23. He will be joined by Il Lombardia winner Bauke Mollema and Jasper Stuyven in the team's line-up in Portugal.
Nibali and Mollema have recently been training at altitude at Mount Teide ahead of their seasonal debuts at the Volta ao Algarve.
“Although I have many season debuts behind me, doing it with a new team brings a touch of serene trepidation,” Nibali said on Friday.
“With the team, we agreed that the Volta ao Algarve arrives at the right time to start the season. It comes after an important workload, especially at Teide, and is ideal for those like me who don't need to hurry their debut. It will be a long season, and my first big goal is the Giro d'Italia. To reach my best condition there, I need to do it step by step, with a clear roadmap, and without excessive stress to the physique. Algarve is the perfect starting point.”
Nibali joined Trek-Segafredo this winter after spending the past three seasons at Bahrain-Merida. He will lead his new team at the Giro d’Italia before skipping the Tour de France to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is also scheduled to ride the Vuelta a España ahead of the World Championships in Martigny.
The 2020 Volta ao Algarve features a summit finish on the Alto da Fóia on stage 2, an uphill finale at Malhão on stage 4 and a 20.3km time trial in Lagoa on the concluding stage.
2019 winner Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will not return this year but the field is set to include Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos), who also kicks off his 2020 season in the race.
“The stages have everything I need for my first feedback: two uphill arrivals, demanding routes, and a time trial,” Nibali said.
“It's my first time in this race, I won't have any comparisons with past experiences, so it will be an interesting test. Honestly, to have ambitions of victory won't be easy, but no doubt I'll perform 100% to be useful to the team's ambition. We have started the season great, and now I want to make my contribution.”
After finishing his 2019 campaign on a high with Il Lombardia victory, Mollema opted to delay the start of his 2020 season. The Dutchman is set to join Richie Porte in Trek-Segafredo’s Tour de France squad.
“The winter went in the best way, without any hiccups or problems, and I have fully recovered from an exciting but energy-intensive 2019 season finale,” Mollema said.
“That's why we decided to postpone the debut compared to past years. We also added the camp at Teide, so I've done quite a lot of work in preparation.”
Antonio Nibali is also set to make his Trek-Segafredo debut in Portugal, while the team's line-up also includes some of the squad’s Classics unit, with Jasper Stuyven, Ryan Mullen, Edward Theuns and Koen de Koert all lining out.
“Considering the level of our competitors, I think a top-five placement can be a concrete goal, maybe even something more,” said directeur sportif Steven de Jongh.