Road

Spain brings a powerful threesome to worlds (even without Contador): Valverde, Freire and Sanchez

Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Freire and Samuel Sanchez will lead Spain's bid to win the men's road race title at the world cycling championships next week in Mendrisio, Switzerland. All-rounder Valverde is the current Tour of Spain leader and has in the past narrowly missed out on winning cycling's coveted rainbow jersey, a feat achieved by Freire a record-equalling three times. Sanchez, who is currently ranked third in the Tour of Spain, is the reigning Olympic road race champion who like Valverde excels on hilly, selective courses.

By Agence France Presse

Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Freire and Samuel Sanchez will lead Spain’s bid to win the men’s road race title at the world cycling championships next week in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

All-rounder Valverde is the current Tour of Spain leader and has in the past narrowly missed out on winning cycling’s coveted rainbow jersey, a feat achieved by Freire a record-equalling three times.

Sanchez, who is currently ranked third in the Tour of Spain, is the reigning Olympic road race champion who like Valverde excels on hilly, selective courses.

All three riders were singled out as leaders by the Spanish cycling federation on Wednesday, while the big absentee is reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who recently pulled out of contention for the team citing a lack of form.

It could be the final world championships for Freire, a sprinter who can also climb. The accident-prone but formidable Spaniard, 33, recently announced his intention to retire in 2010.

According to Spain’s team manager Jose Luis de Santos, the hilly course for the men’s road race on September 27 “is the most complicated in recent years”
of the world championships.

The 262.2 km course features more climbing, 4655 meters, than recent years. Two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, feature on the 13.8-kilometer circuit which will be raced 19 times, with the last coming 2.5 km from the finish.

Spain’s road race team:

Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), Alejandro Valverde
(Caisse d’Epargne), Joaquim Rodriguez (Caisse d’Epargne), Dani Moreno (Caisse
d’Epargne), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Juan Jose Cobo (Fuji Servetto), Carlos
Barredo (Quick Step), Ruben Plaza (Liberty).

Time trial:

Ivan Guttierez (Caisse d’Epargne), Hector Guerra (Liberty)