By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Granada
Francisco Antequera is the Spanish national team coach. He is in Granada for the Vuelta a España paying a lot attention to the Spanish riders who will start racing tomorrow. The World Championships in Madrid are just one month away.
On Thursday, Antequera gave a list of 14 riders the would represent Spain in the road race and time trial: Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Santos Gonzalez (Phonak), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears), Isidro Nozal (Liberty-Würth), Luis Leon Sanchez (Liberty-Würth), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskaltel), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), David Blanco (Comunidad Valenciana), Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Luis Perez (Cofidis), Benjamin Noval (Discovery Channel) and Xavier Florencio (Relax-Fuenlabrada).
Cyclingnews caught up with him in the press room and asked him about the team, which has suffered a few losses of late. "So far, we are fine," said Antequera. "We should consider that Oscar Freire won't be there; he was an important rider inside the outfit and gave prestige and greatness to the team. His absence should be substituted by another rider. We still have expectations and a good team though."
Unfortunately for the Spanish, Alejandro Valverde is not in good condition either, and it's unlikely that he will race in Madrid. "I talked to him yesterday," said Antequera. "Right now his presence is uncertain. At first, he will do the Tour of Poland, but I think that won't be enough to come to the World's in good condition. Last year he rested, he competed at the Vuelta a Burgos, he won it, but then in the Olympics he didn't have the competition tempo. So, I think Poland will be scarce for Valverde. So far, there are not great hopes."
Without Valverde and Freire, the question is who will be the strong man inside the team for the victory in a bunch sprint. "There are some riders like [Juan Antonio] Flecha, [Igor] Astarloa, [Miguel Angel Martin] Perdiguero, even [Angel] Vicioso. In case Valverde doesn't ride, his substitution would be Vicioso and the team boss would be Perdiguero. Perdiguero is the fastest rider from the squad."