Contador-less Saxo Bank supporting home riders at the Volta ao Algarve
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Contador-less Saxo Bank supporting home riders at the Volta ao Algarve

by Ben Atkins at 5:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta ao Algarve
 
Danish team to ride for Portuguese riders in their home race after suspension of two-time winner; Classics riders to use five-day race to build form for April

nick nuyensThe Saxo Bank team will start the Volta ao Algarve tomorrow, without two-time winner Alberto Contador, which will be the team’s first race start since the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) suspended the Spanish rider for two-years, and stripped all results since his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. Contador won the five-day Portuguese race in both 2009 and 2010, when he was riding for Astana; he finished fourth in last year’s edition, although he will now be stripped of that result after the CAS verdict.

With the loss of Contador, Saxo Bank has lost more than two-thirds of its WorldTour ranking points, costing it much of its sporting value; the measure applied by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to determine a team’s worthiness for its top level WorldTour. Should the team lose its ProTeam license, it may find itself losing a number of race invitations; the team’s absence from the list of teams invited to the Critérium International – organised by Tour de France owner ASO – could be seen as significance, but the team did not ride the race last year either, and hasn’t done since losing five-time race winner Jens Voigt at the end of 2010.

Without the rider that would have been its natural captain in the race, the Danish team will instead throw its support behind local riders Sergio Paulinho and Bruno Pires, in the hope that the home-soil advantage will work for them. Both should be looking forward to the varied, hilly terrain of the Algarve, with the final day’s 25.8km against the clock suiting former national time trial champion Paulinho.

Several of the rest of the riders in the team will be using the race to build for their peak of form in early April, including Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Nick Nuyens and Dutch Classics specialist Karsten Kroon.

Saxo Bank team for the Volta ao Algarve
Kasper Klostergaard, Michael Mørkøv, Jesus Hernandez, Nick Nuyens, Karsten Kroon, Sergio Paulinho, Bruno Pires and Matteo Tosatto

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