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Posted February 13, 2006 by publisher in Cuban Sports

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The 31st Tour of Cuba began early on Tuesday morning with a tough 153 km stage from Baracoa to Guantanamo in eastern Cuba, with 126 cyclists competing, local media reported.

From east to west, the cyclists will travel 1,855 km route, ending in Havana, with a time trial in Paseo del Prado.

Cyclists will compete for three speed trials, in Imias, Santa Cruz del Sur and Yateritas, and five moutain trials, in El Vivero at the beginning of the race and Alto de Cotilla; both part of the La Farola mountain range—a nightmare for many cyclists.

The first stage is one of the most tiring parts of the race, with some 400 curves, plenty of steep descents and mountainous paths.

Colombia’s Cesar Salazar team won the mountain prizes last year,beating Venezuela’s Tachira Lottery team. Due to visas problems, Cesar Salazar did not take part in the tour this year.

Among the riders to watch are the U.S.‘s Joe Papp, who rides for the Italian team Partizan Whistle; Croatia’s Matija Kvasina, racing for Slovak club Perutina; Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Perz, championof 2000, 2001 and 2004; and Arnold “el Chiqui” Alcolea.

Among the teams, fans are watching teams from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic; the latter led by Cuba’s Eduardo Alonso, one of the most successful Cuba athletes, who has won six titles with five consecutively. Enditem

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