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Mixed fortunes in Portugal

José Azevedo (Benfica)

José Azevedo (Benfica) (Image credit: Andrea Hübner)

By Monika Prell

Portuguese team Liberty Seguros has announced its 13-man squad for 2009, and biciciclismo reports that 11 riders from the 2008 squad extended their contract. Héctor Guerra, Isidro Nozal, Carlos Nozal, Hernani Broco, Filipe Cardoso, Manuel Antonio Cardoso, Antonio Jesús, Nuno Ribiero, Vitor Rodrigues and Rui Sousa will continue to wear the colours of Liberty Seguros in 2009.

New riders include José Mendes and Edgar Pinto, who rode for Benfica this year, and Portuguese national U23 champion Ricardo Vilela. Koldo Gil, Pablo Urtasun, César Quiteiro and José Rodrigues signalled their intentions to ride elsewhere, with Urtasun heading to Euskaltel - Euskadi.

Alternately, Benfica, another mainstay of the Portuguese domestic scene, will most likely disband in 2009, according to Portuguese daily Record. Team manager João Lagos, who has tried to find a new sponsor since the Volta a Portugal, will make any developments official next week. The fact that Cândido Barbosa is looking for a new team indicates that the news will be bad for Benfica's riders.

Barbosa could sign for Tavira, as have Benfica's sporting director Orlando Rodrigues, masseurs Francisco Carvalho and Paulo Roque and José Azevedo already. The latter recently retired from cycling after a season with Benfica, and he'll undoubtedly become an important part of Tavira's support staff.

Record also reported that Benfica has already sold the team bus to Cervélo, while Benfica's manager Justino Curto bought the team's truck as part of his attempt to create a U23 team with Gonçalo Amorim. Only several Benfica riders have sured up their future; the aforementioned José Azevedo, Rui Costa (moving to Caisse d'Epargne), Danail Petrov (joining CC Bourgas), and José Mendes and Edgar Pinto (moving to Liberty Seguros).

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