The Giro d’Italia traditionally dominates the month of May but an alternative race calendar kicks off this week at the Tour de Hongrie, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep), Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny) and Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) all in action.
A series of French Cup and one-day races include the Tour du Finistère in France on Saturday and the Antwerp Port Epic a week later in the Netherlands. The 4 Jours de Dunkerque is scheduled for May 16-21 and then Tour of Norway ends the month with four days of racing between May 26-29.
Many of the big-name riders expected to ride the Tour de France will head to altitude later in May but Bernal and a swathe of sprinters are keen to get back into racing this week and have travelled to Hungary for the five-day race that begins on Wednesday in the western city of Szentgotthárd, close to the border with Austria and Slovenia.
Bernal will lead a young team of Ineos Grenadiers’ next generation riders, including Luke Plapp, Ben Tulett, Michael Leonard. Also in the squad are Elia Viviani and Jhonatan Narváez.
Bernal last raced at the Tour de Romandie, where he impressed in the mountains for the first time since his life-threatening accident and finished eighth overall. He is expected to head to altitude after the Tour de Hongrie to prepare for the Tour de France.
Another former Tour de France winner to have battled back from a career-threatening crash in recent years is Chris Froome, who was on the provisional start list but has since pulled out.
“According to Israel-Premier Tech, due to a small injury prior to Tour de Romandie, which hampered his training and preparation, Chris Froome will miss TdH this year,” read a statement from the race organisers.
Froome himself acknowledged a “small injury” after completing the Tour de Romandie but did not specify, although he did say it was “all healed” and has since been training.
With few real sprint opportunities at the Giro d’Italia, a number of the pure sprinters have opted for an alternative race programme in May and June. Three of the five Tour de Hongrie stages are expected to finish with bunch sprints, with the stage 4 mountain finish deciding the overall classification.
Jakobsen, Groenewegen, Ewan and Bennett all have their sprint trains with them in Hungary as they get back to racing after an intense spring.
Jakobsen last won a sprint at…
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