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"It is the start of the year, all are eager to debut after the winter. We will start in Africa. It is a new adventure that we will take on with a good team. In the first race it is always a bit of a mystery how you are going but we wil...






07.01.2014 @ 17:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After having had limited racing in his final year with Belkin, Luis Leon Sanchez is eager to get his first season as a Caja Rural rider started. The multiple Tour de France stage winner will spearhead his Spanish team in next week's Tropicale Amissa Bongo which will see the squad make its debut on African soil.


Most may be talking about the Tour de San Luis and the Tour Down Under as the opening races on the international cycling calendar but the first high-level race will actually take place one week earlier than those two events. On Monday, the Tropical Amissa Bongo kicks off in Gabon and the 7-day race has attracted a strong line-up, with Europcar and Cofidis both travelling to the African country.


They will be up against Caja Rural as the Spanish pro continental team has decided to start its season earlier than usual by heading to Africa. As it had already announced at the press conference where they announced the signing of the former Belkin rider, the team will be led by their biggest star, Luis Leon Sanchez.


Due to his involvement in several doping investigations, Sanchez had limited racing in 2013 and he is eager to make up for the lost racing kilometres by starting his season as early as possible. He will be joined by another new signing, breakaway specialist Luis Mas, in the African event.


The team is completed by Vuelta stage winner Antonio Piedra, young talents Omar Fraile and Ramon Domene and the king of Vuelta breakaways, Francisco Aramendia.


"It is the start of the year, all are eager to debut after the winter," manager Eugenio Goikoetxea said. "We will start in Africa. It is a new adventure that we will take on with a good team. In the first race it is always a bit of a mystery how you are going but we will try to do well."


The Tropical Amissa Bongo consists of 7 stages that are mostly flat. The race has usually attracted some of the strongest French teams, with former Tour de France KOM Anthony Charteau winning the race three times in a row from 2010 to 2012. Last year Europcar's Yohann Gene added the race to his palmares.


While six riders will race in Africa, the rest of the Caja Rural team will attend a training camp from January 14 to 30 which will end with the team's official presentation. They will make their European debut in the Challenge Mallorca in the beginning of February.


Caja Rural for Tropicale Amissa Bongo:

Luis Leon Sanchez, Ramon Domene, Omar Fraile, Francisco Aramendia, Lluis Mas and Antonio Piedra



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