Dirt, gravel and a pothole-riddled road await the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team in the final three kilometers of Sunday's Classica da Arrabida in Portugal.
The eight riders who will line up for the race got a good look at the uphill finish during a reconnaissance ride earlier this week.
"It is going to be hard," said Logan Owen, winner of a stage of Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal last month. "Lots of rough roads – like a mini Strade Bianche (an Italian WorldTour race) – and gravel and dirt roads as you climb into the town. Then you turn onto cobbles for a kilometer or a kilometer-and-a-half to the finish. It is going to be tough."
There are also five categorized climbs – all in the last 70 kilometers of the 176.3-kilometer race.
Axeon Hagens Berman's roster will resemble the lineup which captured the team classification last month at Volta ao Alentejo. Six of eight riders return: American Will Barta, Irish Under 23 time trial champion Eddie Dunbar, Great Britain criterium champion Chris Lawless, Ivo Oliveira of Portugal and Americans Owen and Neilson Powless. Replacing American Adrien Costa and Ecuadorian Under 23 time trial champion Jhonatan Narvaez are Ivo Oliveira's twin brother, Rui, and American Chad Young.
For the first time this year, the Oliveira brothers will compete together in a road race in their home country. In January, Ivo rode away with three of four national elite titles on the track while Rui earned the silver medal in the scratch race to go along with a bronze he earned in the omnium.
Sunday's race begins at 5:30 a.m. EST/2:30 a.m. PST (11:30 a.m. CET). Expected finish time is 9:56 a.m. EST/6:56 a.m. PST (3:56 p.m. CET). It will not be televised.
Riders: Will Barta (USA), Eddie Dunbar (IRE), Chris Lawless (GBR), Ivo Oliveira (POR), Rui Oliveira (POR), Logan Owen (USA), Neilson Powless (USA), Chad Young (USA). Sport Director: Koos Moerenhout (NED).
Header photo of Neilson Powless courtesy of Volta ao Alentejo.