Gabriel Cullaigh led the Team Wiggins charge in Portugal’s Volta ao Alentejo (UCI 2.2) with two stage wins and a second place. Following a 2017 campaign which was blighted by serious breathing problems, the final-year under-23 rider is making up for lost time and reminding us that here’s more than one Yorkshireman on the team.
Sterner tests are to come later in the year, but Mark Downey placing in the top five on every road stage, and third place overall, made it a successful week for the British team.
Ended Volta Alentejo with another stage win! Such a positive start to the year for myself and all the lads out here. This one's for all the people that stood by me through tough times last year, very excited to see what the rest of this year brings! Onto my Belgium block… pic.twitter.com/Xs5LEleHem
— Gabriel Cullaigh (@GabzCullaigh) March 18, 2018
In the Italian 1.2-ranked Popolarissima, Zalf-Euromobil’s Giovanni Lonardi emerged from the rain-soaked bunch to take the win at the head of a 120 rider field. Selected for the Italian squad to contest the Nations Cup at Kattekoers next weekend, Lonardi will hope his good early-season form (two wins, two second places) can help him survive the Baneberg/Kemmelberg/Monteberg and still be in the lead group 20km later in Ieper.
Looking ahead to the Nations Cup at Kattekoers-Ieper next weekend, most countries haven’t publicly announced their Nations Cup teams and the startlists of races at this level often remain a mystery until the results have been published after the event. However, a strong Belgian squad is known to include Jasper Philipsen (Hagens Berman – Axeon), Rune Herregodts and Gerben Thijssen (both Lotto – Soudal U23). Last year’s winner Jacob Hennessy is away at the Tour of Langkawi so will not start, but 2017’s 7th placed rider Simon Guglielmi returns with the French selection.
Coming up this week: Development teams head to the Tour de Normandie, and EW will be in Ieper trying to find a shop that sells Kwaremont and is open on a Sunday.
Main image from Volta ao Alentejo.