Number of Spanish professionals falls in 2011
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Number of Spanish professionals falls in 2011

by Conal Andrews at 8:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dissolution of Xacobeo Galicia team impacts Iberian peloton

Ezequiel MosqueraThe Spanish contingent of the peloton is facing a drop of riders in 2011, with a total of 132 riders set to compete in ProTeam, Professional Continental and Continental team categories.

This represents a drop of 20 professionals from the 2010 figure of 152 raced in 2010; this difference is explained in part by the disappearance of the Xacobeo Galicia team from the peloton. While some of its riders will head elsewhere, the majority of them have uncertain futures. The loss of the team also limits employment opportunities for Spanish riders in general.

Ironically, the squad had its most successful Vuelta a España campaign this season, with Ezequiel Mosquera winning the Bola al Mundo stage and netting second overall. However he and David Garcia both returned positive A samples for the banned substance Hydroxyethyl Starch (HES), which can be used to mask traces of EPO.

Garcia subsequently failed a test for the blood booster. This sealed the fate of the Spanish Professional Continental team, which had been struggling to secure enough funding for 2011.

The Spanish website Biciciclismo performed an analysis of the situation and notes that 78 riders, or 59%, will compete as part of the seven Spanish teams. These are Euskaltel-Euskadi, Movistar, Geox-TMC, Andalucía-CajaSur, Caja Rural, Orbea and Burgos 2016. The remaining 54 riders (41%) will be with overseas squads.

Of those riders, 43.2% will hold ProTour licences next season. The others are divided between Pro Continental (33.3%) and Continental (23.5%).

Spanish riders are well clear of their rival nations in the world rankings. However its biggest star Alberto Contador is under investigation after testing positive for Clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France, and could lose the points he earned for winning the Tour for a third time.

Compatriot Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) had his best-ever season and ended the year as world number one.


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