By Les Clarke
It's amazing the effect a year can have. Consider Team Astana's predicament leading into last season's Vuelta a Castilla y León; told it wouldn't be riding the 2008 edition of the Tour de France, the super squad made its way to the north west of Spain with a chip on its shoulder and a race to win.
Contador was successful in achieving that aim, but not before providing Spanish TV cameras with a spray about his team's exclusion from the Tour. It was entertaining stuff, and provided a spark in what was fairly standard racing fare from the Castillian region.
The race itself was still recovering from a period of instability, as finances were a consideration and the effect of numerous doping scandals in 2007 was being felt. The event's prospects were set for a boost, however.
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