The five-stage Volta ao Algarve is set to see its most prestigious start sheet yet in 2021.
The Portuguese race, February 17-21, will host 14 WorldTour teams, including Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Jumbo-Visma, Ineos Grenadiers and Israel Start-Up Nation. Wildcard invites have also been given to Minneapolis-based Rally Cycling and the Spanish Caja Rural-Seguros team.
Nine Portuguese continental teams will also be racing.
Reports on Wednesday indicated that Chris Froome could be among those on the start line on February 17, but team officials have not confirmed his participation. Defending champion Remco Evenepoel is also expected to be returning to racing at some time next month, though his program has not yet been confirmed.
Volta ao Algarve is one of many small European stage races profiting from the shutdown of both the Australian block of racing and the Colombia Tour 2.1 due to ongoing COVID complications. The ability for international teams to race the Vuelta a San Juan in late January is similarly at threat as restrictive health measures are due to be imposed in Argentina.
Late last year, the Portuguese race reported an unprecedented spike in interest from top teams looking to find alternative programs in the absence of southern hemisphere races. Furthermore, many squads are seeking to limit international travel in order to mitigate any coronavirus risks.
“The quality of the organization, the international media coverage of the race, the excellent quality of the Algarve hotels, and the security of the destination Portugal, particularly the Algarve region, in times of pandemic, justify this interest from the international peloton,” Volta ao Algarve officials said.
WorldTour teams at Volta ao Algarve:
- Astana-Premier Tech
- Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
- Israel Start-Up Nation
- Lotto Soudal
- Team DSM
- UAE Team Emirates
- Movistar Team