By Monika Prell
The Spring Classics have ended and now the tours begin, heralded by the Tour de Romandie. The Swiss races starts today with 3.5-kilometre prologue through the streets of Fribourg.
Top contender Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto), the winner of last year's edition, will try to defend his title. Saunier Duval is represented by Koldo Gil and José Angel Gomez Marchante, CSC will participate with Carlos Sastre and Fränk Schleck, Denis Menchov will show the colours of Rabobank, Paolo Savoldelli, one of the favourites for the Giro d'Italia, will be present, and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), who will be the unique leader of his team after Alejandro Valverde's decision to take a break and to come back in the Dauphiné Libéré.
Pereiro will be supported by Joaquím Rodríguez, who at the moment is in top form, the Frenchmen Florent Brard and Nicolas Portal, strong climbers David López García, Francisco Pérez and Xabier Zandio and the sprinter Vicente Reynes.
Pereiro will use the Tour de Romandie mainly as preparation for the Tour de France. "I hope I will be able to win a stage, even if I know that I first I will have to find my ProTour rhythm to be at hundred percent in the Dauphiné Libéré and then in the Tour," he said.
Until now, he only participated in one stage of the Volta a Mallorca and the Vuelta a Castilla y León but he is very confident. "I will take the start of the Tour of Romandie in good condition, and for sure better than last year at the same period. My sensations are good and I am anxious to test myself in the mountains as well as in the time trial.
"It is a beautiful race which I like very much. ... I am really motivated."