Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Star-studded field for Vuelta al Bidasoa

The best sub-23 riders in the country will convene in the Basque Country tomorrow as the prestigious Vuelta al Bidasoa commences.

The four-day race will as usual take in stages around the river of Bidasoa, with the two final stages yet again likely to decisive.

The third stage, starting and finishing in Hondarribia, takes in the climb of climbs in the region, the mythical Jaizkíbel, only ten kilometres from the goal line. The final leg to Irún takes in three cat.1 ascents, meaning it's likely to once again stay tight on GC until the very last day.

Last year's champion, Alexey Rybalkin, will not be back to defend his crown, but his team, Lokosphinx, most definitely will. The team has taken out the last four (!) editions of the race, and they'll bring plenty of overall candidates this time around as well - not least in the shape of Vadim Zhuravlev and the Vdovin brothers, Sergey and Alexander.

The Russians aren't likely to have it all their own way, though, as numerous on-form domestic riders will line up.

The recently crowned overall Copa de España victor, Fernando Grijalba, will spearhead a strong Caja Rural team featuring the likes of Ibai Salas, Antonio Molina and Jaime Rosón.

The young Gonzalo Serrano and ever-reliable Argentine Ariel Sivori will be present in the colours of Supermercados Froiz, Gipuzkoa-Eki Sport will field dangerous pair Beñat Txoperena and Ibai Davoz, David Etxebarría's Cafés Baqué-Conservas Campos outfit will include Mario González and Iñigo Ojeda, while Adrián Alvarado will be one of the biggest favourites for the overall crown when he lines up for Bicicletas Rodríguez-Extremadura.

Further, GSport-Valencia Terra i Mar duo Manuel Sola and cyclo-cross specialist Marcos Altúr might throw up a surprise, and the same goes for the strong climber from Catalonia, Arnau Sole of Coluer.

The team to beat appears to be Lizarte, though. The pink squad has racked up win after win lately, and will send both Santi Ramírez, Antonio Pedrero and Dayer Quintana to the race.

On their part, Naturgas Energía will count on Víctor Etxeberría, eighth last year, and Loïc Chetout, who last week finished up the Copa de España in fourth overall.

"Víctor Etxeberría was laid low by bronchitis a month ago and still isn't at a 100 percent, but I hope he can be up there", DS Ion Lazkano says to El Diario Vasco. "What's more, Loïc Chetout might go well. We bring a potent team that can fight for the stage wins".

Visit the race's homepage for more info on stages, start lists and whatnot here  

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