By Monika Prell
Caisse d'Epargne will start the Vuelta a España with a strong team this Saturday, despite the absence of the Spanish squad's star Alejandro Valverde. Under the supervision of Eusebio Unzué and Alfonso Galilea, seven Spaniards and two Russians make up the squad's nine-man Vuelta line up. Team leader Oscar Pereiro will be supported by his strong team-mates Vladimir Karpets, David López and Luis León Sánchez, all of whom will be looking for a top 10 positions on general classification.
Veterans Vicente García Acosta and Joan Horrach will work for the quartet and could also aim for stage victories during the 21 stage event. Youngsters Imanol Erviti and Vladimir Efimkin will be riding for experience and hope to continue their good season, which has brought Efimkin victory in one stage of the Euskal Bizikleta, amongst other races.
The Vuelta will be the second Grand Tour of the year for Xabier Zandio, who rounds out the squad's roster. The rider from Pamplona fell down and broke his collarbone at the Tour de France, but is hopeful of being in a strong position when the Vuelta reaches Spain on September 23.