Garate back in contention for Vuelta start

Juan Manuel Garate's hopes of competing in the Vuelta a España are back on track, three weeks after breaking his hand at the Clásica San Sebastián. The Spaniard has told his team, Rabobank, that he has returned to full training and will be considered for the Dutch team's final Vuelta line-up, to be announced next week.

"The choice [of team for the Vuelta a España] will be very difficult," said Rabobank directeur sportif Frans Maassen. Tour de France stage winner at Mont Ventoux, Garate has been named in the ProTour squad's ten-man long list that also includes Robert Gesink, Pieter Weening, Oscar Freire, Lars Boom, Mauricio Ardila, Tom Leezer, Paul Martens, Koos Moerenhout and Bram Tankink.

Maassen, who was directeur for the team at the Tour of Limousin, said that despite narrowly missing victory in the final stage through Paul Martens on Friday, he was pleased with the French race as preparation for the Vuelta a España. Seven of the riders being considered for the Spanish Grand Tour took part in the four-day French race.

Martens' third place on the final stage matched his effort on the first day of the race, while Koos Mourenhout finished eighth overall. Maasen was particularly encouraged by the form shown by Robert Gesink to pull back a dangerous break on the final stage. "Robert was driving on the front and rode strongly to close the gap to the squad leaders."

Gesink finished seventh overall at last year's Vuelta, his Grand Tour debut. The 2009 Vuelta a España begins next Saturday, August 29,in Assen, the Netherlands.

Rabobank Vuelta a Espana long list: Mauricio Ardila, Lars Boom, Oscar Freire, Robert Gesink, Juan Manuel Garate, Tom Leezer, Paul Martens, Koos Moerenhout, Bram Tankink and Pieter Weening

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