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Preview of Vuelta favourites: Juan Miguel Mercado
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 9/4/2002
Preview of Vuelta favourites: Juan Miguel Mercado
 

Last year’s big revelation on the international cycle scene was without a doubt 24 year old Juan Miguel Mercado from Granada, Spain, of the Spanish iBanesto.com team. In the 2001 season Mercado had a major breakthrough, winning on such legendary and feared climbs as Lagunas de Neil and Lagos de Covadonga before ending his first ever major 3 week tour with a marvellous 5th place in the Vuelta España. In 1997 Juan Miguel Mercado, at the tender age of 18, signed his first ever professional contract when he joined Vitalicio Seguros, after being headhunted by team director Javier Minguez, who already then had discovered the enormous potential the young Spaniard had to offer, and quickly decided to take him under his wing at his newborn team. When Vitalicio Seguros, before the 2001 season, had to close down due to financial problems, Juan Miguel Mercado's learning period was over, and he was quickly snatched up by Jose Miguel Echavarri's iBanesto.com squad and immediately starting delivering the goods.

In this year's Vuelta España, Juan Miguel Mercado will be looking towards the final podium in Madrid, and seeking some stage wins on some of the more impotent mountains in the race.

In His Favour: His freshness, after not having ridden any Grand Tours like many of his closest rivals has, may be to his advantage. He also has a very strong team in iBanesto.com to back him up, especially in the mountains.

Against His Favour: Like many of the other “pure” climbers his time trial skills will be a problem for him (even though he as an amateur was regarded as an decent time trialer); he hasn’t accomplished enough to transform this ability among the pros.

PALMARES: 2002 (IBANESTO.COM)
1 Vuelta a Castilla-Leon Stage 4
1 Vuelta a Castilla-Leon GC
1 Setmana Catalana GC
7 Clásica Internacional de Alcobendas GC
9 Vuelta a Burgos GC
21 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco GC
23 Vuelta a Andalucia GC

PALMARES: 2001 (IBANESTO.COM)
1 Volta ao Alentejo Stage 3
1 Vuelta a Burgos Stage 2
1 Vuelta a Burgos GC
1 Vuelta Stage 5
2 Clasica a los Puertos de Guadarrama
3 Volta a Portugal GC
4 GP Villafranca de Ordizia
5 Vuelta España
6 Volta ao Alentejo GC

PALMARES: 2000 (Vitalicio - Seguros)
3 Volta a Comunidade Galega GC
5 Volta a Portugal GC

PALMARES: 1999 (Vitalicio - Seguros)
10 GP Portugal Telecom GC

Photo courtesy of iBanesto.com


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