Favorites line up for Andalucia Bike race

358 teams set to start 2014 edition of mountain bike stage race

Andalucía Bike Race will host a record number of starters for its fourth edition. Over 700 racers will take to the line comprising 358 teams, of which a quarter will be foriegners representing 24 different countries. The mountain bike stage race starts in Jaén on Sunday, February 23 and finishes in Córdoba on the Friday, February 28.

The main favourites are the members of the Topeak-Ergon team: Robert Mennen, who won the last edition (along with the currently injured Alban Lakata) and Kristian Hynek, who was the first winner in Andalucía Bike Race's history in 2011 with Pavel Boudny.

Germans Jochen Käss and Markus Kaufmann, from Centurion-Vaude, are back after finishing in second place in 2013. Their teammates Hannes Genze, who was second in 2012 with Andreas Kluger, and Daniel Geismayr, who is debuting in this race, also aspire to be at the top of the rankings.

Other foreign standouts are the Swiss riders of the Stöckli team, Mathias Flückiger and Matthias Stiernemann, both racing Andalucía Bike Race for the first time; and Polish riders from JBG-2, Bartlomiej Wawak and Adrian Brzozka, who face their second attempt with the goal of surpassing their eighth place finish from last year.

The strongest Spanish team will possibly be the Mondraker team, made up by the local rider Juan Pedro Trujillo and Fran Pérez, who were fourth in the 2012 and 2013 editions.

The MMR team of Carlos Coloma and Pablo Rodríguez and the Extremadura team of Pedro Romero and Alejandro Díaz de la Peña, who have finished twice in the top 10, are other strong Spanish teams.

The Buff couple, made up of Pau Zamora and Antonio Ortiz and Scott's José María Sánchez and Francesc Guerra are other teams that also stand out.

The women's field will have Anna Villar and Mercé Pacios (Tomás Bellés-Cannondale). Villar was third last year with Nuria Picas, and won the mixed category in 2012 with Pau Egeda; while Pacios was fifth in the past edition with Annick Chretien.

Claudia Galicia will team up with the experienced racer Sandra Santanyes, several-time Spanish national champion, to make up the Polar women's team. The third favourite Spanish team is the BG-PowerBar made up by Spanish marathon champion Rocío Martín and Nuria Espinosa.

The Thule Adventure team also stands out, consisting of two world champions, Eva Nyström (duathlon) and Miriam Guillot (Raids);as well as Milena Landtwing, winner of the two last editions of Andalucía Bike Race in women's category with Sally Bigham, who this year will race in the mixed category.

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