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By Andrew Hood
Five North Americans are among a preliminarystart list for the 61st Vuelta a España
Released Friday by race officials in Spain, all 20 official teams have outlined their early starting riders and substitutes for the season’s third grand tour, set to start Aug. 26 in Málaga.
Barry will back for his fifth Vuelta start while Danielson is expected to line up as team captain for Discovery Channel after busting into the top 10 last year. Horner and Rodriguez both raced the Tour de France, but will be back for the Vuelta in hunt for stage victories.
Hesjedal will make his second grand tour start after a strong spring for Phonak that included solid results at the Volta a Catalunya and Dauphine-Libere. Olson also race the Giro and could replace any late changes for Saunier Duval.
Another name making the substitute’s list was Ivan Basso for Team CSC. The Giro d’Italia champ is waiting the outcome of a hearing before Italian authorities expected later this month on whether he’ll face any sanctions over alleged links to a Spanish doping investigation. Basso’s hearing, however, is scheduled to be held in Rome on August 29, three days after the Vuelta starts.
Basso was among nine riders from four teams who were kicked out of the 2006 Tour de France after their names were linked to an ongoing doping investigation in Spain.
None of the other riders kicked out of the Tour were among the team’s starters or substitutes.
Notably absent from the list were Comunidad Valenciana and Astana. The former was notified last week that its wild card berth had been officially revoked while Astana’s uncertain ProTour status kept it off the preliminary start list.
Astana officials have given up efforts to buy the ProTour license from Active Bay, the holding company co-owned by ex-manager Manolo Sáiz, and instead seem to be taking a position of trying to obtain its own ProTour license. No decision has yet been made by the ProTour License Commission on the sticky issue.