No ProTour teams in Castilla y Leon

The 20th edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon will commence today with not a single ProTour team...

The 20th edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon will commence today with not a single ProTour team at the start, as all of the Spanish ProTour teams who would normally take part are either in Romandie or are preparing for the Giro d'Italia. The separation of professional cycling into ProTour and non-ProTour events has put the future of this race in doubt, as the organiser had to fight to obtain live television coverage, which is so crucial to guarantee sponsors.

The Spanish Continental teams will therefore fight it out amongst themselves for the honours in Castilla y Leon, with Comunidad Valenciana bringing a strong team with European Continental Tour leader Rubén Plaza and Vuelta a Rioja leader Javier Pascual Rodriguez. Felix Cardenas (Barloworld) and Aitor Perez (Spiuk) should be worthy challengers, while Francisco Pérez (Maia) will be back in action after finishing his suspension for EPO. Perez has already raced since finishing his ban, winning last weekend's non-UCI classed Gran Premio do Centro, a three day Portuguese stage race.

The race will consist of five stages, starting on Wednesday in Astorga with a 142 km stage, and ending on top of La Covatilla on Sunday, which should be the decisive stage. There is also a 45 km team time trial in Toro in stage 3.

The stages

Stage 1 - April 27: Astorga, 142 km
Stage 2 - April 28: Astorga - Zamora, 168 km
Stage 3 - April 29: Toro TTT, 45 km
Stage 4 - April 30: Zamora - Salamanque, 181 km
Stage 5 - May 1: Salamanque - La Covatilla, 176,5 km

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