By Monika Prell
Spanish national coach Francisco Antequera, whose pre-selection of riders for the World Championships was published yesterday, defended the nomination of Alejandro Valverde. The 27-years old Caisse d'Epargne rider was declared "not welcome" by the German organisation in charge of the Stuttgart event because of rumours that Valverde was involved in the Spanish doping scandal Operación Puerto, but the Germans admitted that they were legally not able to prevent him from riding.
According to todociclismo, Antequera said that "there is absolutely no reason that Valverde could not participate in the World Championships. He already competed the Tour de France where every case was investigated in all details."
He does not believe that there will be an excessive animosity, "The Germans are very civilised people, they won't throw stones at our cyclists." He added that he "expects that the German journalists will ask aggressive questions in the press conferences or that they will bestow us some titles not very agreeable, but normally nothing more should happen, and even the last thing would not be logical."
Antequera is confident about the riders. "We don't take boys with us, but professionals who know to focus on their work. The Selección won't be discouraged, no, contrary! When things like those happen, you get stronger." Valverde, the most affected, "had already to stand up to pressure in the Tour de France. I am convinced that this that won't influence him."
The circuit, however, disappointed Antequera. "It is much more soft and less selective than the circuit of the last World championships in Stuttgart in 1991, where the winner was (Gianni) Bugno and where (Miguel) Indurain finished third. There is a little climb of 700 meters and 17%, but after a descent, so you almost can overcome it by the push you got in the descent. But after almost 260 kilometers, (Oscar) Freire and (Alejandro) Valverde will have their chances."