By Antonio J. Salmerón
Mikel Pradera reached a contractual agreement with the powerful Portuguese squad Benfica. The Spaniard had left Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears after two seasons. Prior to Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Pradera raced for Euskaltel and ONCE-Eroski.
Team Benifica will be directed by Orlando Rodrigues. The squad had already signed three other riders come: Jose Antonio Pecharromán (from Comunitat Valenciana), the sprinter Javier Benítez (from Grupo Nicolás Mateos), and the neo-professional Didac Ortega (from FC Barcelona). Portuguese rider Jose Azevedo (from Discovery Channel) will head this new pro-continental squad. Other possible team members include Jesús Buendía, now with 3 Molinos Resort.
Benfica will tackle an international calendar, but will mainly race in Spain and France. Vuelta a Andalucia, Vuelta a Valencia, and Vuelta a Murcia are on the list of candidate races.