Top names to contest Spanish championships

Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse D'Epargne) was best young rider at the Tour Down Under

Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse D'Epargne) was best young rider at the Tour Down Under (Image credit: Shane Goss)

The contest for the Spanish national road race championship is heating up, with most of the peloton's top names ready to fight for the red and gold jersey on the 210 kilometre course in Talavera on Sunday. The forecasted hot weather will be an additional challenge for the likes of Alejandro Valverde, who will start on Sunday as a favourite alongside his team-mate Joaquím Rodríguez, the defending champion.

With 16 riders on the start list, the Caisse d'Epargne riders should be able to dominate in a breakaway or a sprint, with David Arroyo, Daniel Moreno, Oscar Pereiro, José Joaquín Rojas and Luis León Sánchez among the line-up.

Rojas is particularly motivated to win the title after solid results at the Tour de Suisse. Rojas said he likes the course, which has a significant climb to be traversed three times. "Together with the heat, this will make it very hard. In addition, the climbs are a bit far away from the finish, which may lead to a regrouping after the climb." Rojas thinks that a group of about 20 riders could come to the finish together, and hopes to be among them.

A strong performance could earn him a selection for the Tour de France, as the Caisse d'Epargne team to support Valverde has yet to be decided.

The strongest opposition for Valverde and his squad could come from the Saunier Duval team, which will field several riders who have put in strong performance in June. David De La Fuente and Juan José Cobo both wore the mountains jersey at the Dauphiné Libéré, and will be joined by Josep Jufré, Alberto Fernández De La Puebla and Javier Mejías.

Karpin-Galicia's David Herrero will return to competition after his crash in the Vuelta al País Vasco, where he led the points classification before falling victim to a wreck on stage five. He will have Gustavo César Veloso and Carlos Castaño by his side.

Other names on the start sheet are Rock Racing's Oscar Sevilla, the Benfica trio of Javier Benitez, Rubén Plaza and Mikel Pradera. as well as ProTour riders Xavier Florencio (Bouygues) and Juan Manuel Gárate and Carlos Barredo (Quick Step).

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