Team Caisse d'Epargne will send 14 men to fight for the red and yellow Spanish national championship jersey this Sunday in Talavera de la Reina, including defending champion Joaquím Rodríguez, Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Alejandro Valverde and 2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro.
Valverde finished second last year to his friend and team-mate, Rodríguez. This year's race, on the eve of the Tour de France should see the 28 year-old Spaniard on top form. "I think that it is a great opportunity for Valverde, because we will confront a very demanding climb in three times," Luis León Sánchez confirmed to Cyclingnews.
The entire team consists of Alejandro Valverde, David Arroyo, José Vicente Garcia, Iván Gutiérrez, Joan Horrach, Pablo Lastras, David López García, Alberto Losada, Daniel Moreno, Francisco Pérez, Oscar Pereiro, José Joaquín Rojas, Luis León Sánchez and Xabier Zandio.
Young sprinter Rojas, 23, admitted, "I have been dreaming of this championship for a long time." However, he added that the "heat and distance" will make the race a hard affair.
The Caisse d'Epargne team will field Gutiérrez and Sánchez for the time trial. In France, where its sponsor is based, the team will have Anthony Charteau, Arnaud Coyot, Mathieu Drujon, Fabien Patanchon, Mathieu Perget and Nicolas Portal fighting for the road race title. (GB/AS)