Hermida readies for third Andalucia Bike Race

Spaniard aims to defend title

Former cross country world champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) will return to the Andalucia Bike Race for the third time in late February. Each year, the Spaniard has raced and served as the event ambassador.

The Spanish mountain bike stage race, which starts on February 24 and ends on March 1, will be Hermida's first race of the season. "It will be a great event to start the season with. The Andalucia Bike Race will help me to tune my shape up for the World Cups. A multi-stage race is a great workout."

Unlike in other recent years, World Cup racing does not start in 2013 until mid-May.

The Multivan-Merida rider is returning as the defending co-champion. He won in 2012 with teammate Rudi van Houts.

"I am very happy to be there again and try to defend last year's victory," said Hermida. "This is something that motivates me a lot. I am looking forward to enjoying the trails, tracks and views that Córdoba, Priego, Bedmar, Mancha Real and Jaén offer."

When asked what he thought about the changes to this year's race, he said, "Organizers will surprise us for sure, just as they did in previous editions. Rudi and I will have tough competition."

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