By Antonio J. Salmerón
The Vuelta a Murcia 2008, which was presented officially in San Pedro del Pinatar will draw top riders from ProTour squads for five days beginning March 4. The race will start and finish in the capital city of Murcia as usual.
The first stage will be disputed between San Pedro del Pinatar and Lorca over 198 kms. The queen stage comes next with 152 km from Calasparra to Totana with first category climbs up the Alto de Espuna and Collado Bermejo. The third stage will be carried out between Puerto Lumbreras and San Pedro del Pintar for 146 kms. The time trial stage in Alhama and Aledo), with its last 10km of climbing, will likely decide who will be the winner determined on the final 134km day linking La Manga (San Javier) to Murcia.
Organizer Francisco Gúzman, was "very satisfied" with the level of participation he has come to expect for his race. To Cyclingnews, he cited good weather and short transfers as "very good reasons to join the race".
"The majority of the participating squads will spend the five competitions days here, in the same hotel and in the same city, San Pedro del Pinatar, next to the Mediterranean Sea," added Gúzman.
On the list to race are last year's winner Alejandro Valverde and Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Denis Menchov and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), Samuel Sanchez and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Carlos Sastre and Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC), Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Koldo Gil and Hector Guerra (Liberty), and Adrián Palomares and Julián Sánchez Pimienta (Grupo Nicolás Mateos-Murcia).