Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) will start his racing season at the UCI 2.1 Tour de San Luis held from January 17-23 in San Luis, Argentina. The two-time Giro d'Italia winner will use the seven-stage event as a valuable first step in his preparations for the Tour de France in July.
Basso last competed in the Tour de San Luis in 2009 where he placed fifth overall. It was the opening event in his first full season of professional racing following a two-year suspension.
Notably absent from the 2011 Tour de San Luis start list is Basso's teammate Vincenzo Nibali who secured the overall victory last year. Liquigas-Cannondale will likely want to defend that title and Basso points to Eros Capecchi as the man to do that.
"This year I will start very easy with my training and racing so right now my form is not super," Basso told Cyclingnews. "So, we will see. But my team has Capecchi who is feeling good."
Race organizers announced the participation of 21 teams including three ProTeam outfits: Liquigas-Cannondale, Ag2r-La Mondiale and Movistar.
Four Professional Continental ranked outfits will start including Androni-Giocattoli, Andalucia Caja Granada, De Rosa-Ceramica Flaminia and UnitedHealthcare. Geox-TMC recently pulled itself from the start list and will open its season at the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Italy on February 2.
Continental teams that will take part include Endura Racing, Trek Livestrong, Nutrixxion, Boavista, Funvic, Centro della Calzatura and D'Angelo & Antenucci.
The Continental US-based team Jamis-Sutter Home was expected to participate in the event with a roster that includes two of Argentina's top cyclists Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo. The team recently announced that it will delay the start of its season to mourn the death of older brother and former Argentine national road champion Armando Borrajo.
The field will include a strong contingent of national teams from Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay. Arguably the strongest national team on paper is from Argentina. The squad will field three former event winners in Jorge Giacinti (2007), Martin Garrido (2008) and Alfredo Lucero (2009).
Racers will complete six road races and one time trial for a total of 1,026.8km raced over the seven-day event.