The Tour de France podium finishers Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and Denis Menchov of Russia are the favourites to win cycling's Tour of Spain.
Schleck has twice finished second in the Tour de France, in 2009 and 2010, while Menchov, third in Paris this year, won the Tour of Spain in 2005 and 2007.
Spain's top stage racer Alberto Contador, who won his country's biggest race in 2008 is not taking part but organisers claim the level of participation is high enough for the three-times Tour de France champion not to be missed.
A high-level of sprint finishes is expected, in part thanks to the first-time participation of Briton Mark Cavendish.
New Zealand riders Julian Dean and Hayden Roulston will also compete.