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Vuelta a Murcia reduced to three stages due to lack of sponsors

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The peloton en route to Alhama de Murcia during stage 1.

The peloton en route to Alhama de Murcia during stage 1.
(Image credit: Rafael Alonso)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was well out of contention for the win.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was well out of contention for the win.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia peloton in action during the opening stage.

The Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia peloton in action during the opening stage.
(Image credit: Rafael Alonso)

The Vuelta a Murcia will have only three stages in 2012, but can already confirm that top riders will be in the shortened race, including Alejandro Valverde, returning from his doping suspension. The race will be held March 2-4.

Even in its shortened version, the race has received requests from more than 20 teams who wish to participate. Already confirmed to ride, in addition to Valverde of Movistar, are 2009 winner Denis Menchov (Katusha), Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).

The race has had to cut back from five to three stages due to a lack of sponsors, but director general Francisco Guzman is not giving up. “We will fight to keep on the international calendar this most important annual sporting event in the Murcia region. We keep tightening our belts, because since 2008 we received 75 percent less public input,” he told LaVerdad.es.