Alejandro Valverde will have something to prove when the San Sebastian classic, one of the top one-day events on the UCI ProTour, takes places on Saturday in northern Spain.
The 29-year-old Caisse d'Epargne rider was recently banned from competing in Italy for two years by the Italian Olympic Committee after he was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal. The decision, which Valverde has contested, ruled him out of the Tour de France, the 16th stage of which passed through Italy.
With a few weeks to rest since his victory in the Tour of Catalonia in May, Valverde is the favourite to retain the title he won last year in San Sebastian.
His compatriot Alberto Contador, who won his second Tour de France on Sunday, is also on the official list for the event, a 237-kilometre mountainous course that begins and ends in the Basque city. But his participation remained uncertain just a day before the race.
Other top finishers from the Tour will be facing Valverde though, including the Schleck brothers from Luxembourg, Andy and Franck.
Also confirmed among the 188 riders from 19 teams are Spaniards Carlos Sastre, the 2008 Tour de France winner, and Oscar Freire and Australians Cadel Evans and Allan Davis.
This year's San Sebastian race has added interest in that 80 points will be up for grabs on the UCI ProTour, double the number previously.
© AFP 2009
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