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Coppi e Bartali begins with quality field

Cadel Evans during the Ruta del Sol.

Cadel Evans during the Ruta del Sol. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Vuelta a Castilla y León has garnered the cycling world's media attention this week but another important Giro warmup race begins in Italy today – the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali.

While Alberto Contador, Carlos Sastre, Alejandro Valverde and Denis Menchov are battling it out on Spanish roads, Grand Tour contenders Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego will ride the five-day event that takes riders around the Emilia-Romagna and Tuscan regions.

Evans has been busy testing equipment after a solid performance in Paris-Nice, where he finished 21st overall. It's an indication the Australian is timing the peaks in his form well ahead of the Tour de France, and Coppi e Bartali serves as another important part of that process.

Cunego will also be using the race as preparation, albeit this year's Giro d'Italia, where he will again start as one of the favourites for the overall crown. The diminuitive Lampre rider will be up against countrymen Danilo Di Luca and Michele Scarponi, with the latter recently winning Tirreno-Adriatico.

Team Liquigas will focus on sprint stage wins however, with Francesco Chicchi heading a lineup that includes Kjell Carlström, Claudio Corioni, Vladimir Miholjevic, Andrea Noè, Gorazd Stangelj, Sylwester Szmyd and Brian Bach Vandborg.