The T-Mobile Team will take to the roads of Spain from Friday, April 22, for the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja (UCI. Cat. 2.1). With winning ambitions on the back burner, the magenta team is primarily using the low-key three day tour as training for the bigger races ahead.
"This race plays an important role in our ongoing preparations for ProTour races later in the season," commented T-Mobile Team sporting director Mario Kummer, who will be looking to Paco Lara to lead the T-Mobile challenge in the mountainous terrain. The Spanish climber will be joined in the wine producing area of Rioja by six other T-Mobile riders. Dutchman Bram Schmitz, King of the Mountains at last week's Vuelta a Aragon, Daniele Nardello and Erik Zabel will all be in action in north east Spain. Sprinter Eric Baumann and rookie pros Bas Giling and Marcus Burghardt complete the line up.
The race's hardest stage is Saturday's 163.5km second stage; a hilly trek that takes the peloton from Villoslada de Cameras over three first category and one second category climb before the final ascent up the second category Ermita de la Virgen de Lomos.
The first and third stages, while not so hilly, are marked by false flat uphills and windy conditions. With much of the countryside blanketed in vines and open to the wind, the peloton will likely be exposed to energy-sapping headwinds and constant jumping and attacking.
Stage 1 - April 22: Calahorra-Calahorra, 189 km
Stage 2 - April 23: Villoslada de Cameras - Ermita de la Virgen de Lomos de Orios, 163 km
Stage 3 - April 24: Logrono - Logrono, 176 km