Former world champs line up for Andalucia Bike Race

The Andalucia Bike Race, a mountain bike stage race in Spain in late February, is drawing several former world champions to its start line as well as hundreds of other professionals and amateurs. The third edition of the race will take place in Córdoba and Jaén, Spain, from February 24 to March 1.

2010 cross country world champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) will be among the starters. After winning the Andalucia Bike Race last year, he is aiming to repeat victory with his same partner, Dutchman Rudi van Houts.

"I am facing 2013 with the same passion as usual, after enjoying a winter without 'cross that has allowed me to rest," said Hermida at a recent Multivan Merida team launch. "I am looking forward to the start of the racing season."

Competition will come from racers like Sergio Mantecón and Carlos Coloma, who will team up for Trek-Wildwolf.

Former U23 cross country world champions Thomas Litscher and Ondrej Cink will also be in Andalucia as well as former marathon world champion Alban Lakata and his Topeak Ergon teammate Robert Mennen. Others to watch are Germans Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Käss, who are regular top 10 finishers at major international stage races.

In the women's category, Britain's Sally Bigham, ranked UCI number one, will aim to repeat victory with Milena Landtwing, but they will face the strongest women's field yet at the race. Spaniards Anna Villar and Nuria Picas; Danes Helle Qvortrup Bachmann and Rikke Kornvig; and SpaniardMarga Fullana will be on the start line. Fullana is a former cross country world champion.

Marathon world champion Annika Langvad will race in the mixed category and the first Spaniard to win a mountain bike World Cup race, Tomás Misser, will race among the Masters 30+.

In total, over 670 participants from 24 different countries from as far as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bolivia and Puerto Rico will race in Andalucía. They will cover 400km in six stages and with 13,000m of climbing.

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