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Rock Racing makes Iberian tour

Mancebo at the Tour of California.

Mancebo at the Tour of California. (Image credit: Emory Ball)

By Gregor Brown

Team Rock Racing is will race on the Iberian Peninsula for the first time in the coming weeks. The first race of the American team will be the Vuelta a Castilla y León stage race from March 23 to 27 in Spain.

"Tyler Hamilton will be there. In Mexico's Telmex Tour he did a lot of work for the team despite having bronchitis. He is going to beat Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador," predicted Directeur Sportif Rudy Pevenage to Cyclingnews.

Team owner Michael Ball gave Pevenage the OK to take the team to Castilla y León. Hamilton arrives on the 18th and will stay at Sevilla's home in Albacete with Victor Hugo Peña and Fred Rodriguez.

The team for the race will include Hamilton, Peña, Sevilla, Rodriguez, José Enrique Gutierrez, Francisco Mancebo, David Vitoria, David Martín Velasco and Glen Chadwick. [Pevenage will cut one rider prior to the race. - ed.]

"'Paco' Mancebo is coming back for Castilla y León; it is home race. Even though he broke his hand in California he is OK to come back."

Mancebo won stage one of the Tour of California in Santa Rosa. Six days later, when he was the leader of the mountain's classification, he crashed on a descent.

Pevenage will take most of the same riders to the one-day Gran Premio Llodio, two days after Castilla y León. After Spain, the team will travel to Portugal to race the Volta ao Alentejo em Bicicleta stage race from April 1 to 5.

Spaniard Contador won the Castilla y León in 2008. This year's race will be the first opportunity for team Astana's Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong to race together prior to the Tour de France.