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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Illes Balears-Banesto
Francesco Mancebo
Country: Spain
Manager: Jose-Miguel Echavarri
Team leader: Francesco Mancebo
Best Tours: Miguel Indurain - winner 1990-5
The Spanish team still pine for the Miguel Indurain era, when he rode to five Tour de France victories.

They have struggled to fill the void left by 'Big Mig' and look unlikely to uncover the magic this time around.

But Francesco Mancebo has won plaudits in and outside the peloton with a series of strong, if unspectacular, rides in the last three Tours.

He finished ninth in 2000, 13th in 2001, seventh place overall in 2002 and dropped back to 10th last year.

He was well supported by Denis Menchov in 11th place 12 months ago, and the Russian looks in good form having won the Tour of the Basque Country back in April.

There is no doubting the team have the ability in the mountains, albeit irregularly, although their cause will not have been helped by Juan Miguel Mercado's departure to Quickstep-Davitamon.

Stage wins in the mountains look likely to be the Spanish outfit's best bid for glory as well as a top-10 finish in the general classification.

The team, though, are lucky to make it to the starting line at all, after in their former guise as they were saved from extinction by the local government of the Balearic Islands.

Banesto had pulled out as major sponsors causing a number of key riders to jump ship, including Mercado, Evgeni Petrov and Spaniards Unai and Aitor Osa.

How they bounce back remains to be seen.

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