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Teammates Ralph Näf and José Antonio Hermida cross a stream on stage 1 of the Andalucia Bike Race
Multivan Merida riders among favorites on start list
In one month, racers will take to the start of the Andalucía Bike Race in its second edition, and some stars have already announced their plans to compete in the Spanish mountain bike stage race.
Czechs Martin Horak and Tomas Vokrohulik (BMC-Savo) and last year's runner-up Alejandro Díaz de la Peña will partner up with the former professional road cyclist Pedro Romero (GR100 Sports-Specialized). Fran Pérez is also taking a break from the road peloton and will team with the Cordovan Juan Pedro Trujillo, representing the Wildwolf-Trek team.
Other notable Andalucians will include Macías brothers (Scott) and Manuel Beltrán and José Luis Carrasco (Sportbike-Emotion), who last year won the two stages in their hometown, Jaén. The promising Andalucian José María Sánchez, together with experienced Marc Trayter (Scott), will form one of the most competitive teams.
Coming from further afield are British TBC (Ben Tomas and Josh Ibbett) and Wiggle (Matthew Page and Milton Ramos), Norwegians Hardrocx-Proteinfabrikken (Greg Saw and Lars Ove Thorensen) and Fokus-Danica (Henrik Kippernes and Sturla Aune) as well as Czech Sweep Cycling (Milan Spolc and Robert Novotny).
Sally Bigham, the women's winner of the first Andalucía Bike Race, will try to renew her title with the help of Milena Landtwing (Topeak-Ergon-Centurion-Vaude). The Swedish Åsa Erlandsson and Kajsa Snihs (Snabeltutarna), the Danish Rikke Kornvig and Helle Qvortrup Tvillum Bachmann (Racing 29ers), and the Hungarians Eszter Dósa and Gabriella Módos will be their closest contenders. The Esteve-Loule BPI team, formed by the marathon national champion Sandra Santanyes and the Portuguese Celina Carpinteiro, will be another women's team to watch.
Race registration does not close until February 19, so others may still be added to the list of favorites. In total, 400 people (200 teams) from 18 different countries are expected.