Bradley Wiggins in action in Volta a Catalunya
Bradley Wiggins, Trofeo Alcudia 2013, Majorca
Sir Bradley Wiggins takes to the start line of the Volta a Catalunya today (Monday, March 18) as he warms-up for an assault on the Giro d'Italia in May.
It's Wiggins second stage race outing in 2013 after he rode in the Tour of Oman in February. That particular race didn't go to plan for Wiggins after he was caught up in a late crash on the opening stage but was not awarded the same time as the stage winner. He ultimately finished the race in 74th place overall after helping team-mate Chris Froome to victory.
Wiggins will face stiff competition in the hilly race, with 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, Daniel Martin (both Garmin-Sharp), 2010 Catalunya winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), 2009 winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Mreida), Robert Gesink (Blanco) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) all on the start list. Last year's winner, Michael Albasini (Origca-GreenEdge) is absent. Scarponi inherited the 2011 title from Alberto Contador after the latter was stripped of the win due to a positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.
Sky fields a strong team alongside Wiggins, with Rigoberto Uran, David Lopez, Dario Cataldo, Josh Edmondson, Peter Kennaugh, Christian Knees and Danny Pate. Uran has always done well in the race, finishing fifth overall last year and fourth in 2011.
British participants on the start list are Steve Cummings (BMC Racing), Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and the previously mentioned Wiggins, Edmondson and Kennaugh (all Sky).
The last - and only - British winner of the race was Robert Millar in 1985.
The 2013 edition of the seven-stage, WorldTour-level race kicks off with a hilly stage on Monday from Calella to Calella that could favour attacking riders, if they can keep the attentions of the sprinters' teams at bay.
Wednesday's third stage is the first big test for the climbers, featuring a mountain-top finish at Vallter 2000. The following day is even tougher, with a day of ups and downs in the high mountains culminating in an ascent of Port Aine, topping out at 1947 metres above sea level.
The three remaining stages offer less in the way of mountains and favour escapes or bunch finishes, and the race concludes with a short 122.2km stage to Barcelona on Sunday (March 24). There are no time trials.
Volta a Catalunya 2013: Stages
Stage one: Monday March 18, Calella to Calella, 159.3km
Stage two: Tuesday March 19, Girona to Banyoles, 160.7km
Stage three: Wednesday March 20, Vidreres to Vallter 2000, 180.1km
Stage four: Thursday March 21, Llanars-Vall de Campodron to Port Aine Rialp, 217.7km
Stage five: Friday March 22, Rialp to Lleida 156.5km
Stage six: Saturday March 23, Almacelles to Valls, 178.7km
Stage seven: Sunday March 24, El Vendrell to Barcelona (Montjuic), 122.2km
Volta a Catalunya 2013: TV coverage
The 2013 Volta a Catalunya will be broadcast live on digital channel British Eurosport. Check the Eurosport listings for confirmed schedule.Monday Monday March 18, 14:30-16:00, Stage one LIVE, British Eurosport
Tuesday March 19, 14:30-16:00, Stage two LIVE, British Eurosport
Wednesday March 20, 14:30-16:00, Stage three LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Thursday March 21, 14:30-16:00, Stage four LIVE, British Eurosport
Friday March 22, 14:30-16:00, Stage five LIVE, British Eurosport
Saturday March 23, 14:30-16:00, Stage six LIVE, British Eurosport
Sunday March 24, 14:30-16:00, Stage seven LIVE, British Eurosport
Volta a Catalunya: Recent winners
2012 Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
2011 Michele Scarponi (Italy)
2010 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain)
2009 Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
2008 Gustavo Cesar (Spain)
2007 Vladimir Karpets (Russia)
2006 David Canada (Spain)
2005 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)
2004 Miguel Martin (Spain)
2003 Jose Pecharroman (Spain)
Sir Bradley Wiggins: Rider profile