As snow blankets much of Northern Europe, the UCI's push to globalize cycling seems to be working out well for the professional peloton, which gets its 2013 started in much warmer, sunnier climes such as Argentina, where the Tour de San Luis starts on Monday.
While the WorldTour squads assemble in Australia for the Tour Down Under, some have also sent squads to San Luis to find their race fitness in favourable conditions.
While Mark Cavendish debuts with Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Peter Sagan will prove a formidable opponent with his well-drilled Cannondale team.
Alberto Contador once again tries to shed his winter weight with a foray to the tip of South America with the Saxo Bank team. Vincenzo Nibali will be a major rival for the classification as he hones his form on his new Specialized machines with Astana.
BMC's Thor Hushovd will try to regain his race speed after having a dismal 2012 thanks to illness and injury, while Tejay van Garderen continues his progression as a GC contender.
There are a host of up and coming riders on the Pro Continental and national teams who will attempt to upset the WorldTour riders' in the seven stage race. The home town team, San Luis Somos Todos will try to repeat its podium performance of 2012, when Daniel Diaz challenged Levi Leipheimer and Contador.
The Katusha team brings the world's top rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, who will be eager to prove the team's worth after it was left off the WorldTour.
With Katusha depending on wild card invitations, the pressure to perform in this race and prove themselves to race organisers will be even more intense for the other Pro Continental teams Androni Giocattoli, Vini Fantini, UnitedHealthcare, Netapp-Endura, CCC Polsat Polkowice and Bardiani CSF Inox.
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