Despite the prevailing financial problems, the Tour of the Algarve which traditionally opens the European cycling season looks set to continue.
Organisers of the February 15 to 19 sporting highlight have been working hard to assemble a competitive field which had already experienced a significant reduction to 17 teams this year as opposed to the 23 which participated in 2010.
To date, eight Pro Tour outfits, namely Saxo Bank, RadioShack, Rabobank, Sky, Vacansoleil, Omega-Quick Step, Lotto and Garmin have confirmed their presence, with the big draw likely to be dual winner Alberto Contador.
The 29-year-old Spanish world champion has included the Algarve in his official programme for 2012 but that scenario will depend on the final verdict of the Sports Arbitration Tribunal vis-à-vis doping allegations related to the 2010 Tour de France.
The 38th edition of the Algarve’s biggest cycling event which has featured such superstars as Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis in the past is expected to follow the same course which saw Germany’s sprint champion Tony Martin triumph over Contador on the Portimão harbour front last February.
Meanwhile, the local Tavira/Prio team led by Tour of Portugal winner Ricardo Mestre has begun its preparations for the up and coming new season.