Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro both finished within the top 10 of general classification at the Tour de France last year, and intend to combine forces again this season to reach at least the podium on the Champs-Élysées next July. But the two Spaniards not only have the French Grand Tour in mind for 2008; they also target other events together as Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner found out at the team's presentation in Paris last week.
Pereiro and Valverde – 'partners in crime' you'd almost say when looking at their season goals and race programme. The low-key stage race specialist and his more popular and versatile team-mate want to work together throughout the season, to score the maximum of victories and top placings.
"We have a very similar race programme," Valverde told Cyclingnews after the presentation, revealing that the pair will be able to fine-tune its partnership in the lead-up to the Tour de France, the race being the biggest objective.
Goal #1: Tour de France
If all goes as planned, Valverde and Pereiro will be Caisse d'Epargne's road captains in July: Valverde will aim at the podium, and his team-mate at the top 10. "Valverde is a rider that has much more class and quality than I have," said Pereiro full of praise for his friend. "He's one of the best in the world. I can give him some Tour experience, but within the team it's clear that he will be the leader. I will be there protecting and helping him. It all goes like last year, where he was better than I, then that will be the order of things. Of course, if I'm in front, then he will be there for me – we'll be able to play with that, too."
But Pereiro won't put all his money on the Tour, revealing that as soon as the month of May, the roles between him and Valverde could be reversed. In a very determined manner, he explained, "I want to win something before the Tour. Last year was such a hard season for me with all that uncertainty about the 2006 Tour victory, so I have to make up for that now. I want to have really good form in the months of April and May, also for the Ardennes Classics. Afterwards, there's the Tour, in which I will help the team and also try to go for a stage victory – but first and foremost, I want to finish in the top 10 again. Every time I started at the Tour, I was in the top 10, so I'd like to do this one more time. And then, there's the Vuelta, too..."
Read the full Valverde & Pereiro feature.