Aru lines up alongside fellow Italians Simone Consonni, Valerio Conti and Simone Petilli, plus Croatia’s Kristijan Durasek, Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar and Jasper Philipsen, from Belgium.
Philipsen had a debut to remember, the 20-year-old rode to victory on Stage 5 of the Santos Tour Down Under and will be hopeful of carrying that form through to this week’s race in southern Portugal.
Commenting ahead of the race, Aru said: “After the good start in the Mallorca challenge, I expect that I will find even more good feelings to confirm the improvement in my condition.
“The tour offers stages that should provide a good testing ground. Like always, I’m going to ride with grit and go for it in the stages most suited to my abilities.”
The opening stage will see the peloton tackle a lengthy 199km route from Portimao to Lagos, with rolling hills and a category three climb; the stage could lend itself favourably to the breakaway if they can build up a big enough lead on the main pack.
Stage 2 brings about the first summit finish of the tour with riders having to battle up the Alto de Foia. The 8km ascent has potential to wreak havoc on the General Classification (GC) standings. The fast men will have a chance to pull it back on Stage 3 though, an Individual Time Trial (ITT) around a 20.3km loop in Lagoa.
Stage 4 throws up an early category four climb, but shouldn’t be too troubling for the sprinters who will relish the inevitable bunched sprint finish into Tavira. The fifth and final stage of the tour will be the most challenging. The Alto do Malhao – a category two climb – is scaled twice by the peloton, while the category three ascents of Picota, Alto da Amerixieira and Vermelhos makes this a true climbers stage.
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