Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish are the stars of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana

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08/28/2010| 0 comments
by Thomas A. Valentinsen
Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Andy Schleck and Mark Cavendish are the stars of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana

The 2010 Tour of Spain, the third Grand Tour of the 2010 season, will kick off from Sevilla on Saturday. The opening stage will consist in a 13-km team time trial held at night from 10pm till almost midnight. That will be the spectacular start for the 75th edition of the Vuelta. Bunch sprints are expected later on with Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia) taking on the rivals he outsprinted at the Tour de France last month.

The 2010 Tour of Spain, the third Grand Tour of the 2010 season, will kick off from Sevilla on Saturday. The opening stage will consist in a 13-km team time trial held at night from 10pm till almost midnight. That will be the spectacular start for the 75th edition of the Vuelta. Bunch sprints are expected later on with Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia) taking on the rivals he outsprinted at the Tour de France last month.

At the difference of previous editions of the event, it won't be just a race between highly motivated Spaniards. Many famous champions from different nationalities are expected to fill up the gap in the absence of Tour de France triple winner Alberto Contador. The winner of the Tour of Italy Ivan Basso is also giving a miss but runner ups of the first two Grand Tours are tuned up in Sevilla: David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

Other race favourites are Carlos Sastre (Cervélo), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank), Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Thomas Löfkvist (Sky) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) who claimed a stage win and the eighth place overall at his first participation to the Tour de France last month.

"I predict that Schleck, Nibali, Menchov will finish in that order. But I'm not giving the first name of the Schleck...", said with a smile the youngest of the famous brothers from Luxembourg upon arrival in Sevilla.

A logical candidate for the overall win, Andy will try and ride in support of Fränk who clearly announced that he wants to win his second national Tour this year after the Tour de Suisse. The Schleck brothers will be helped for the last time at Saxo Bank by world's top time triallists Fabian Cancellara and Gustav Larsson who finished first and second respectively at the Beijing Olympics and last year's world championship against the clock.

The well balanced course of the Vuelta inspires other riders as well. Menchov hasn't raced since the Tour but he worked a lot for being ready for the Alto de Jaen, which is the first climb of the race scheduled on day 3. Sastre has already finished three times on the podium of the Vuelta and wants to win it for the first time at 35. After wearing the pink jersey for a little while during the first week of the Giro, Nibali hopes to become the first Italian to win the Vuelta in twenty. His compatriot Marco Giovanetti claimed the "maillot Amarillo" - now the red jersey for the first time - in 1990.

The ultimate fight is expected to happen in the Bola del Mondo the day before the finish in Madrid. This climb has never been done at the Vuelta before at the difference of the uphill finishes of Andorra/Pal, Lagos de Covadonga and Cotobello where David Moncoutié (Cofidis) will try to get the king of the mountain classification for the third year in a row. The Vuelta will also be the ideal preparation for the World's in Australia on October 3.

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