By Antonio J. Salmerón
Spanish outfit Contentpolis-Murcia has managed to forget its glorious past in the continental category and has not had the need to live off its past successes, thanks to its deep structural remodeling. Nor was it affected by its late and complicated start to the season. The debut in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana could not have been more fruitful. The young and promising climber Manuel Vázquez finished second, and also won the 'queen' stage to Ibi.
But the best thing was the image of a veteran and tight team, something that surprised both friends and strangers. "We could not imagine starting so well, given the adverse circumstances experienced before. Many of the team members had to delay their preparation, given that our debut was scheduled for Mallorca. I am very proud of the work we accomplished", the team's director, Ginés García, told Cyclingnews.
In March, just after having competed in Valencia and in the Clásica de Almeria, the team was not shy of tackling the Vuelta a Murcia. Julian Sanchez Pimienta won the mountains classification, with riders like Alejandro Valverde and Stefano Garzelli in second and third, respectively. and in the team standings, Contentpolis-Murcia finished fourth, only surpassed by Astana, Acqua e Sapone and Caisse d'Epargne.
One of its youngsters, Javier Etxarri, finished eleventh, after being the protagonist, together with Alberto Contador, Valverde and Garzelli, in the 'queen' stage, as well as Manuel Vazquez. But the Andalusian rider did not have good legs in the final. "It was disappointing, because we expected much from him after his great role in Valencia." Vazquez started the uphill time trial (Alhama-Aledo) with the podium in sight, but ended up giving up more than four minutes. Vázquez blamed an injury – the cyclists' dreaded tendonitis – which subsequently prevented him from attending the Vuelta a Castilla y León.
That race in Spain was another scene where Contentpolis-Murcia showed its fighting spirit. Its riders were always present in the breaks, but they did come short when it came to celebrating a win. Similar outcomes were recorded in the Basque Classics, Miguel Indurain and Amorebieta, although in the Subida al Naranco they won the teams classification. "The tight control of the favourites blocked the race in their favour, which made the race very complicated," said García.
But in the Tour of La Rioja, after rubbing shoulders with Palomares, Calvente reached his goal. "It was the last [stage]. Calvente started the season delayed, due to bureaucratic issues, and although we knew that he was very fit, he surprised us, as he did not have the race rhythm>"
Both in the Vuelta a Asturias, as in Alcobendas and the GP Paredes (Portugal), Contentpolis-Murcia has continued to do well. "There are already riders shining as reserves. We will have to think about giving them chances to race, too, already thinking about the second half of the season." La Bizikleta Vasca, now in June, is the next appointment on the calendar of Contentpolis-Murcia.