By Susan Westemeyer
The Volta ao Algarve is expecting to be a sprinter's festival again this year. While defending champion Alessandro Petacchi of Team Milram, who took the overall win in 2007 with three stage wins, will not be returning, most of the top sprinters will be there. In fact, the race boasts that ten of the last 12 winners of the Tour de France's green sprinter's jersey will be battling in Portugal next month.
Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) and Erik Zabel (Milram) are the biggest names, but they will be joined by younger sprinters Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) and Tomas Vaitkus (Astana), plus Bernhard Eisel (High Road), who last year won a stage and wore the leader's jersey for a day. Also trying their luck will be veteran sprinters Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), René Haselbacher (Astana) and Robert Hunter and Baden Cooke (both Barloworld).
The Volta ao Algarve runs February 20 to 24. It will feature eight ProTour teams, six Professional Continental and seven Continental.
ProTour teams: Astana, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, High Road, Quick Step, Silence-Lotto and Milram.
Professional Continental teams: Benfica, Cycle Collstrop, Mitsubishi-Jartazi, PSK-Whirlpool-Author, Barloworld and Topsport Vlaanderen.
Continental teams: Barbot-Siper, Centro de Ciclismo de Loulé, Fercase-Rota dos Moveis, LA-MSS-Póvoa, Liberty Seguros, Madeinox-Boavista, Palmeiras Resort-Tavira and Rabobank Continental.