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Like many races across crisis-plagued Spain, the Vuelta a Castilla y León is reducing its number of race days in a bid to weather the tough economic conditions hitting the sport. Vuelta a España champ Juan Jose Cobo will be among the riders taking the start in northern Spain on Friday.
Once a five-day race across Spain’s northern meseta, the 2012 version is reduced to three stages as race organizers are pinching pennies to keep the race afloat.
With just three days, gone is the individual time trial, but three rollercoaster stages over the mountains of central Spain should produce a challenging backdrop for the race.
The 27th edition of the race will feature three World Heritage Site cities of the province, with stages in Salamanca, Ávila and Segovia. All three stages start and finish in the day’s host city.
The opening stage in Salamanca features a third-category climb midway through the 159.2km route, but nothing that should slow down the peloton’s sprinters.
Stage 2 in Ávila, hometown of retired 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, features four second-category climbs, including the final hump with 18km to go, which should prove a challenge to control for the GC aspirants.
Sunday’s third stage at Segovia, home of Spanish hero Pedro Delgado, should crown the overall winner. The route tackles three first-category climbs in the Guardarrama mountains, with the Puerto de Navacerrada topping out at 50km from the line.
Among the GC favorites are Cobo (Movistar), Luís León Sánchez (Rabobank), Andreas Klöden and Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan), Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and early season sensation Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing).
Among the sprinters are Fran Ventoso (Movistar), Theo Bos and Graeme Brown (Rabobank), Danilo Napolitano (Acqua e Sapone) and Angelo Furlan (Christina Watches-Onfone).
Four ProTeam squads will join the field that also includes American squad Jamis-Sutter Home, Team Bonitas from South Africa and Michael Rasmussen’s Christina Watches-Onfone team.
A handful of North Americans are slated to start, including Matthew Busche (RadioShack) along with Tyler Wren, Carson Miller and Philip Mooney, all from the Jamis Continental team.
The race will start with an homage to last year’s winner, Xavier Tondo, who died in a tragic accident while at a training camp in Sierra Nevada last May.
27th Vuelta a Castilla y León
Friday, April 13: Stage 1, Salamanca 159.2km
Saturday, April 14: Stage 2, Ávila, 158.8km
Sunday, April 15: Stage 3, Segovia, 173.5km