By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Spanish Murcia-Contentpolis AMPO team received Professional Continental Team status for 2009 by the International Cycling Union (UCI) after submitting all the required documentation. It came as a relief of the team's management and riders.
"It is something similar to a Christmas gift for all of us because we have been working very hard," said team manager José Antonio Ortuño to Cyclingnews. "We are very thankful to all our sponsors, but especially to the local Government of Murcia and AMPO. Without their contributions it would be impossible for us to be celebrating today.
We want also to thank our riders for having confidence in the viability of our team. It was a matter of waiting because much of our budget comes from local government. First it had to be approved and that requires a lengthy process."
The team was at the Vuelta a España presentation in Madrid and look forward to the 2009 edition. "It is spectacular, with many mountains," Ortuño said. "That is good for us, but so are the time trial stages. Two stages (10th and 11th) will take place at home (in the Region de Murcia), and that is very motivating for us as well. Both of the stages are very favorable for breakaways, but first we have to gain Unipublic's confidence.
"ùThere is no doubt that the Vuelta is our most ambitious goal of the next season, but not the only one. We have increased our ability to hire high-caliber and versatile riders. We must keep alive the fighting spirit that characterized us in 2008."
The Challenge de Mallorca will be the team's first race in the 2009 season. "We are also expecting an invitation from the Tour of Qatar's organizer," Ortuño said. "But before the season starts we will have our first training camp in the Centro de Alto Rendimiento Infanta Cristina, next to the Mediterranean Sea in Murcia. We were also there last January and it was a great experience for all of us."