By Monika Prell
Fans and also the organisers of the Vuelta a Murcia would like to see their local hero Alejandro Valverde win the race. But the cyclist, born in Murcia, will have strong rivals. Andrei Kashechkin (Astaná), Marcos Serrano (Karpin Galicia), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Stefano Garzelli (Aqua Sapone), Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Koldo Gil (Saunier Duval), and Víctor Hugo Peña (Unibet.com), are, among others, the riders most likely to endanger his chances of winning.
The course does not have too many mountains, two third category climbs ins in the first stage, two second category ones in the second stage, and two third category ones in the third stage.
For the first stage, a massive sprint is expected, according to the Spanish newspaper AS. For day two, the two mountains, the Alto de Espuña and the Collado Bermejo with the Cima Marco Pantani, will likely not be decisive as they were in other editions because after the second climb, cyclists will still have 100 kms remaining to the finish in Fortuna.
Saturday's stage will probably be most decisive. It features a 23km individual time trial in the mountains. It's new for such a short race, but the racers approved its inclusion.