And the wagon rolls onÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Several more of the big guns will be making their season’s debut tomorrow on the Tour of the Algarve, which starts tomorrow, Wednesday 17 February, and runs until Sunday.
Andreas KlÃƒÂ¶den and Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack), Ã‚Â Thor Hushovd (CervÃƒÂ©lo Test Team), Samuel SÃƒÂ¡nchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Christian Vandevelde and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) and LuÃƒÂs LeÃƒÂ³n SÃƒÂ¡nchez (Caisse dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Epargne) will all be racing for the first time. As will the man to watch, Alberto Contador.
However, it’s common knowledge that his squad is depleted and that his pre-season training has been hampered by the weather. He says on his website that he currently weights 63.5kg – 2kg over his fighting weight. Contador romped home on the 2009 Tour ao Algarve, which prepared his way for the Tour de France, but it sounds as if fans looking for him to do so again this year will be disappointed.
Instead, he’s marking it up as a good training ride for the first race he’ll truly contest – the Paris-Nice on 7 March. In particular, he points to the Algarve’s shorter, flatter final time trial as suiting other competitors and diminishing his chances this year. All that said, he’s no slouch against the clockÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ and with a hilltop finish in stage three, let’s hope the Spaniard feels like testing out his legs.
Eurosport will be showing highlights; please let us know if you find a US outlet!