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The decision to prevent Kaiku's Ricardo Serrano from starting this week's Tour of Murcia due to an elevated red blood cell count seems to have cost the team more than just the presence of their most in-form performer. The news also appears to have deprived Kaiku of a place in this September's Vuelta. Sports daily AS asserts Kaiku were likely to be awarded a wild card for the Vuelta alongside Comunitat Valenciana, but Serrano's exclusion from Murcia helped send the invite Relax's way.
AS reasons that although Kaiku's performances this season have been superior to Relax's, notably Serrano's second places in the recent Tour of Valencia and Almeria Classic, the news about Serrano tipped the balance against them. However, they also point out that Relax's Oscar Laguna was excluded from last year's Vuelta for the same reason as Serrano. But Relax had one key attribute that Kaiku could not lay claim to - they are part of the Unipublic group that organises the Vuelta, and that more than anything seems to have been what has counted.
- Alejandro Valverde took his first victory of the season in his home race, the Tour of Murcia, on Thursday when he won the sprint into Alhama de Murcia. The main contenders for the title emerged on the final climb with 15km remaining. Stage one winner Heinrich Haussler was among those who could not follow the pace and the leader's jersey passed to Liberty Seguros' Angel Vicioso.
Stage 2, Alcantarilla-Alhama de Murcia
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 172.4km in 4.02.36 (42.64h)
2 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros
3 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Lampre
4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Unibet.com
5 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort
6 David Bernabeu (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana
7 Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Illes Balears
8 Jan Hruska (Cze) 3 Molinos Resort
9 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Panaria
10 Marc de Maar (Hol) Rabobank 1.04
11 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre
1 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wrth 8.05.54
5 Garcia Quesada
10 Jesus Del Nero (Spa) 3 Molinos Resort 1.04
- After the disappointing news of the loss of the Primavera Rosa World Cup, due to take place on March 18, women's cycling has been lifted by the announcement of the first edition of a new Italian one-day event that will take place on March 25. The Coppa dei Laghi will follow a 205km route from Salo to Lac d'Idro and will be ranked a 1.1 race, the level below World Cup status, which it is expected to be given next season. The race's main difficulty, apart from the distance, will be the 6.5km Lodrino climb, which comes 24km from the finish. The world's top 10 teams plus eight Italian teams have been invited to take part.
- Unfortunately, the news is not so good for April's Tour of Aragon, which will not take place this year as a result of a budgetary shortfall of 120,000 euros. The organisers also pointed to a clash with Easter, which they feared might have led to chaos on local roads. The race is expected to return in 2007.
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