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Klöden and Vinokourov ready for Valencia

T-Mobile stage race specialists Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov will lead the eight-man squad that will contest the 2005 Tour of Valencia from February 22-26. The five day race through Spain's eastern region is the first competitive outing of the season for Tour runner-up Klöden and the Kazakh Vinokourov. For a stage and teams preview, click here.

The hilly race (UCI cat. 2.1) includes numerous climbs and one mountain top finish (Alt Del Campello), so the parcours is likely to favour all-rounders with good climbing skills. Spanish duo Paco Lara and Oscar Sevilla will also participate, with sprinter Erik Zabel and young guns Torsten Hiekmann, Christian Werner and Matthias Kessler completing the T-Mobile line-up.

Despite going to the race with what looks like a strong team on paper, T-Mobile Team sporting manager Frans van Looy is playing down the team's chances. "Andreas, Vino and Matthias will arrive straight from a tough training camp. I am not yet expecting any top performances or top results from them yet," he said in a press release.

Defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) will be keen to follow up his string of good results at the recent Majorca Challenge, while sprint specialists Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) will be chasing more early season wins in the races' two likely bunch finishes. T-Mobile's Erik Zabel will also be motivated to notch up an opening season win in Valencia.

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