Astana and RadioShack are both expected to start the Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain in mid-April, but it’s unlikely that the five-day race will see Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong at the start line.
Race officials have confirmed that Astana and RadioShack will be joined by Rabobank and Caisse d’Epargne from April 14-18, raising the possibility of the first showdown of the year between Armstrong and Contador.
Neither rider has finalized his racing schedules ahead of the 2010 Tour de France, but it appears that the pair’s respective schedules won’t coincide until perhaps the Ardennes classics or the Dauphiné Libéré.
Last year, Armstrong crashed in stage 1 and broke his collarbone, an injury that threatened his debut at the Giro d’Italia and delayed his preparation in his comeback season.
Levi Leipheimer is the defending champion, but it remains to be seen which riders will show up for the event which has become a rider favorite the past few seasons to hone form ahead of more important goals.
A change in the race dates from late March to mid-April could have a big impact on which riders attend the event.
Last year, the race was held in late March, but the event slots into mid-April this year, bumping up against Amstel Gold Race on April 18.
This year’s route, which typically includes an individual time trial and a mountaintop finish, will travel beyond the Castilla y León region and end in nearby Santiago de Compostela in honor of the “holy year”
for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.