Top Spanish rider absent from top Spanish race

The Vuelta a Espana (or Tour of Spain) may be slightly lopsided this year.  This year’s Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who is also the holder of the current UCI #1 world ranking, will not be participating in this year’s Vuelta.  Contador’s contract with current team Astana ends right in the middle of the 3 week race, and Contador has already announced his move from Astana to Saxo Bank-Sungard for the next season.

Also absent from this year’s Veulta is Team Radio Shack.  Bruyneel’s team was denied a wildcard spot in the race – apparently for not being a “good enough team” to compete.

The absence of many GC contenders from this race may end up being the perfect setup for Frank and Andy Schleck before they leave Saxo Bank for their new Luxembourg team.

However, that does not mean that a Saxo win is a sure thing, either.  VeloNews is reporting that Carlos Sastre will still ride the Veulta for Cervelo this year – despite him also switching teams for next season.

The Veulta a Espana – together with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia – make up the “3 grand tours” or major stage races of every cycling season.  Alberto Contador has stated numerous times that it is his goal to win all three in a single year.