Rally Cycling will race on two continents this week with a European contingent tackling the Volta Alentejo (UCI 2.1) in Portugal, and a six man squad kicking off the 2017 domestic season at the Chico Stage Race. The Volta Alentejo will mark the professional debut of Junior World Time Trial Champion Brandon McNulty. The young 18-year-old will be keen to show himself in the European peloton after a stellar junior career that included numerous national titles and a rainbow jersey.
Brandon McNulty will make his professional debut on the roads of Portugal
“I'm super excited to get the season started,” said McNulty. “It's nice to be back in Europe, and I hope to get some good racing in the legs this week. I don’t have any specific goals other than to perform my best. It is going to be a steep learning curve, but we have guys like Evan Huffman and Danny Pate with lots of experience in Europe to show me the ropes.”
McNulty has already shown great speed and strength this season, winning the team’s Camp Champ competition at training camp in January. He followed up his strong training camp performance with a dominating ride in last week's Valley of the Sun time trial in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. McNulty won the time trial by over 30 seconds before boarding a plane to Portugal the following day. Despite such strong performances, the team is keen to keep the pressure off the young phenom.
Adam de Vos in the Mountains Classification jersey at the Volta ao Algarve
“We are taking Brandon to the Volta Alentejo to learn and gain experience,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. “He has already shown that he is capable of performing at a high level, but we want him to learn without pressure. The Volta Alentejo features a diverse route that should serve that purpose well. The entire team is motivated and ready to race hard over the next five days. We had some minor success at the Volta ao Algarve with Adam de Vos leading the Mountains Classification for a couple of days, but the team left a lot on the table.”
Unlike many stage races that save the hardest stage for the back end of the event, the Volta Alentejo starts off with a monster stage. Stage one includes five climbs and ends with a three-kilometer ascent to the town of Castelo de Vide. The team will support Rob Britton here with the goal of positioning him high in the general classification. The second stage features another uphill finish but is more suited to strong all-around riders like Evan Huffman, Adam de Vos and Matteo Dal-Cin. The third and fifth stages are for the sprinters, with Colin Joyce and Pierrick Naud planning their attack. Stage four could bring an opportunity for McNulty as the long downhill run to the line is perfect for a strong time trialists or dedicated breakaway.
Brad Huff will lead Rally Cycling in its domestic debut at the Chico Stage Race
With half the team in Portugal, the rest of Rally Cycling will kick off its North America campaign at the Chico Stage Race, February 24 - 26. The three-day event has become the traditional domestic season start for the team and is considered one of the year’s best events by many riders. With defending champion Evan Huffman in Europe, the team will look to Jesse Anthony and Emerson Oronte to defend the team’s overall title. Last year’s stage one winner Brad Huff will be back, along with sprinters Shane Kline and Eric Young. The trio will be guided to the line by lead-out specialist Tom Soladay.
Volta Alentejo Stages
Stage 1: Portalegre – Castelo de Vide (158k)
Stage 2: Monforte – Portel (171.3k)
Stage 3: Mourão – Mértola (208.8k)
Stage 4: Alcácer do Sal – Odemira (175.8k)
Stage 5: Ferreira do Alentejo – Évora (168.9k)
Volta Alentejo Roster
Adam de Vos
Chico Stage Race Roster